During the past month I read every word written in the Israeli press on Muslims and Islam and I reached the inevitable conclusion that we very much lack a grasp of our own reality. The changes that occurred in the region and the entire world were so rapid that the attempt to deal with them through yesterday`s concepts is almost ridiculous. Our neighbors live in a new and completely different political environment. Their basic concepts and frames of reference are undergoing a real revolution and we continue in our criminal and stupid policy of blockades and starvation.
At the head of the party leading in the polls, Kadima, stands Ehud Olmert, a clever and wily functionary who lacks political vision. Olmert belongs to yesterday`s world, despite the fact that he actually recognizes the limits of power. However, the world of yesterday does not have tools or new value systems and without these Olmert and his people are destined to abject failure that will rope all of us into a total confrontation with all the Muslims the world over. The leaders therefore need a new textbook where right in the first page they will learn to slough off the arrogance that characterized the leaders of the country thus far. They will learn that neither Olmert nor Shimon Peres can afford to starve the Palestinians only because they decided to choose for themselves, using perfectly democratic vehicles, a new government.
There is hardly a point in writing about the corrupt morality of Ariel Sharon`s people whose attitude towards the people of Gaza and the West Bank was condescending to the point of racism. It is perhaps possible to accept the assumption that the majority of the residents of The State support this policy for as long as they will not have to pay its heavy toll. As in the years 1967 and up to 1973 we are becoming passengers in a Ship of Fools where we are also its financiers and its victims. The complacency and haughtiness will quickly disappear and a short while after we will be forced to erect National Inquiry Committees in order to pry the public out of its collective despair that will be the result of the current policy. Whoever does not understand that there is a huge difference between oppressing a minority people inside a sovereign Israeli territory and between the challenge towards hundreds of millions, simply refuses to read the writing on the wall. The boycotting of the Hamas and the total rejection of all the hints its spokesmen are sending to us will cost dearly from every possible point of view.
The Israeli establishment, which includes today fewer people with a sophisticated world`s view and more ignorant and inarticulate Sabras, does not have the emotional and intellectual capacity to cope with the reality that was created here. Military rule, invasions of areas that don`t belong to us, demonstrations of mastery over other people`s land, the murdering of their leaders and destruction of their homes, all these totally change their meaning when they get transformed from an oppressive system maintained by the strong to an impotent defiance of the weak. Not only do not Olmert and his cronies have a case, but now they are also operating now out of a sense of a `losers despair`. From an Unjust State we are being transformed into an insane society. Our sense of justice we already lost a long time ago and now we are also losing our sense of logic.
It would be worthwhile for us to understand who we are recruiting against us with this policy of starving the Territories which is also accompanied by a crude and conspicuous effort to instigate trouble between Iran and the West and to be the spearhead of a new global war. In this case we are not talking merely about Palestinians living in Nablus, Hebron or the Gaza Strip to whom we also owe respect as human beings. Israel is now confronting hundreds of millions of Muslims in the Arab world, in Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. This also creates a dangerous barrier between the European Jews and the Muslims on the Continent.
The situation in Europe must also be considered in line with the dynamics of things rather then static assessments that are based on realities the prevailed there ten years ago. The Muslim communities in Europe have considerable political and economic power which is reminiscent, to a certain degree, of the power of the United States Jews. The fostering of dialogue with these communities is an urgent and essential Jewish Israeli interest but the establishment seems to prefer a confrontation and at the same time sees the European Jews as its own soldiers who must obey its orders. This way we push many Jews, in France for example, directly into the arms of the Right Wing racist Fascism and at the same time we rejoice with every instance of anti- Islam in Europe. Unfortunately, every victory like this is a pyrrhic victory, a pathetic success that merely points out the impossible situation in which we all are.
The strategic analysis is clear and unequivocal; there is a large Muslim presence in Europe, it is not going to substantially change and therefore, the cartoons in Denmark are an expression of weakness rather then strength. The slanderers of Islam in Europe will be reigned in by the best of the Europeans and we should not be found in the same camp with the racists. We will not be helped by a survey of transient expressions but rather by a courageous analysis of the current status as well as future developments. Both the Israelis and the United States leaders will have to change the policy towards Islam sooner or later. If Israel lags behind the Americans in this process, its alienation from the entire world will become irreversible. Such alienation has political, economic and cultural as well as military ramifications and the slogan `The Whole World is Against Us` will self-actualize. When we will reach a situation where the Israeli Passport will be boycotted in a significant portion of the cultured world we will need to recant at once and then deal with the despair and feeling of hopelessness that will haunt the Israeli society.
Against the Weisglassian arrogance and the boycott policy towards the democratic decision of the Palestinian people we must present an alternative policy. At present even Labor or Meretz do not have any ideas or thinking in this domain, and their expression convey regret about the attitude towards the PLO without learning from it and draw conclusions concerning the desired policy towards the Hamas. This national consensus is dangerous for our existence in exactly the same way that it was during the Golda Meir days. Now too the Israeli intellectual avant-garde must prepare very quickly alternative ideas, here and now.
First, we must rise above past sentiments and stop hoping that somehow Mahmoud Abbas will succeed in re-assuming control in the near future. Whoever liquidated Arafat and the Palestinian Authority caused, quite deliberately, the rise of Hamas to government, also in order to celebrate the blocked road and unilateral solutions. In order to change the situation I propose the following steps:
Israel will abolish the starvation policy in the territories. Will recognize the results of the elections and congratulate the Palestinian People for its success in erecting a democratic system of voting and executing the people`s wish.
Israel will declare a trend toward a general reconciliation with Islam. It will point out the common theological background and will call for dialogue between the religious leaders of Judaism and Islam.
Israel will express sympathy with the persecuted Muslims in Europe and encourage openly a dialogue between Jewish communities on the continent and the Muslim communities in order to fight the Racist and Fascist Right Wing.
Israel will announce the cessation of the struggle against Iran and will also express hope for peaceful reconciliation with it. Even if the Iranians will reject the outstretched hand, Israel will demonstrate its desire for peace with all the Muslims.
The Government of Israel will sponsor a new policy towards its Arab citizens.
It will encourage their activities towards Israeli-Palestinian peace and it will initiate a new system of relationship with the leaders of the various Muslim groups inside Israel.
The Government of Israel will initiate the formalization of political discussions between the country`s leadership and the leaders of the Hamas and it will make efforts to gradually expand the dialogue between cultural activists and economists in order to improve the understanding between the people. The government will consult with the leaders of the Authority on topics relevant to all the residents in Israel-Palestine.
Olmert and his colleagues will disregard right-wing provocateurs who are attempting the fan the fires between the two people. In particular effort must be made to expose those `experts in their own eyes` and `bought journalists`
who cast doubts about any moderating trend on the part of the Hamas. It would be better for Olmert to underscore every moderate statement and, at the same time, try and put the Hamas people to a test of their credibility with regards to their own statements. Naturally this also obligates our own establishment to be credible and respect its own commitments towards the Palestinians.
Statesmen, intellectuals and media people from the Left must establish the `Israeli Council for Jewish-Muslim Peace` and in this way recognize the changes that occurred in the region, also, to reinforce our own political system to understand them and act in accordance with the imperatives of the new reality.
This way the goals of the Peace camp in its broadest context will be re- defined. The Israeli-Palestinian peace is also a bridge for opening a new page in the relationship between Jews and Muslims the world over. Positive historic precedents, such as the Golden Age of the Spanish Jews under the Muslim rule should, once again, be underscored in order to create a positive climate for dialogue of a different kind.
Israel will recognize its responsibility for the terrible economic and social conditions prevailing in Gaza after many years of Israeli military rule there.
The Government will establish a special agency for a massive economic aid to Gaza and will also encourage voluntary organizations in Israel and the Jewish world to raise funds in order to rehabilitate Gaza.
Israel will initiate a large engineering project in order to build a road between Gaza and the Territories and will enable the Palestinian Authority to deal with the inhuman over crowding in the Strip.
All the suggestions I raised here are implementable, one simply needs to have the will and the political power in order to turn them into the appropriate Government policy which in time will even become popular. All of them without exception serve first and foremost the interests of the residents of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They also serve to formalize a new system of relationships with the increasingly strengthening Muslim world. They make it possible not only for the consistent left but also for Meretz and the Labor Party to adopt an alternative platform to that of Kadima and to emphasize their uniqueness, if it still exists.