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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 21, 2003

Transfer again.

When I first raised the idea of transfer (I mean first on my blog, of course), the first thing I expected to hear was: "This is immoral, and you are a fascist for even thinking about it". Instead, the first thing I heard, and, in fact, almost the only thing I keep hearing (with few exceptions) is: "Where will you transfer them to?" The short answer is "I don't know". The somewhat longer one is: "I don't know, not because I don't have any ideas on the subject, but because I have no idea how the war in Iraq will play out. More importantly, I have no idea what the Middle East will look like after that war".

I may have not made it clear in my posts on transfer, so I'll clear things now: I think that right now there is absolutely nothing Israel can, or should do about the Palestinian problem, other than it is already doing, i.e. catching as many terrorists as it can, before they manage to kill Israelis. No walls, no negotiations, no major offensives, no withdrawals (except for dismantling illegal outposts) - nothing. We have to wait until after Iraq. I am sure that is what Bush asked Sharon to do. But I am also sure that Sharon's major reason for obliging is not avoiding pissing off America. The major reason is that he knows that after the war circumstances will be much more favorable to Israel than they are now. The big question is, of course, what then?

Many on the right in Israel and the American Jewish community are weary of the fact that Sharon has in principal agreed to a Palestinian state. In a way he did, but only to the extent that Bush did in his June speech. But what Bush did in that speech, is to set the bar as a condition to such a state so high, that anyone familiar with the Arab world knows it is way too high, at least in a foreseeable future. The Arabs, Palestinians included, would have to completely change their entire culture and mentality to reach that standard. I have no idea whether Bush or his advisors see it that way. But I am sure Sharon does, and I would venture as far as to say that the majority of Israelis feel that way as well, although many would hate to admit it (not for PC reasons, but because it is just too depressing to admit).

My motive for opposing to a Palestinian state in the Territories is not religious, or historical (although I do use history to justify such opposition morally). It is practical. I simply do not believe it is going to work. Farthermore, I believe it will constitute a real threat to the very existence of the state of Israel. I see absolutely no evidence to show otherwise. I do not hate Arabs, or their culture. In fact, I would hate to see an Israel where there are no Arabs and other minorities. One of the reasons I am afraid of having a Palestinian state where it is usually proposed, is because it surely will lead to at least as many dead Arabs, as dead Jews. It could also lead to a forced and ill-conceived transfer of the Palestinians, something I would like to avoid.

So every time I say, “transfer”, people say “where?” And I some times say Jordan, and maybe other Arab countries, and part will stay, and they say, “Right, dream on”. So then I ask: “What is your solution?” I do not get much. Nothing, really.
To be sure, they do have a point. It is a fantasy in today’s world.
No Arab country existing today will take them (not all Arabs are suicidal, you know…), least of all Jordan, which had quite an experience of its own with the Palestinians. Lebanon did, too. But the Middle East is bound to change. It has no other choice. Neither Jordan, nor Lebanon, nor Syria, and of course Iraq, and maybe even Saudi Arabia will stay the same. Regimes will fall, and rise, and fall again. People will be moving across borders more than they did in a long time. And even borders themselves may change.

I am not saying that transfer will be the only possible solution. It might become only a part of some other plan. Or an entirely different possibility that no one ever thought about might emerge. I don’t know. All I am trying to do is to try and think ahead, so that when an opportunity to solve this problem with the least possible casualties on all sides, or at least to start working towards a solution, presents itself, we can be open-minded enough to recognize it.