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In light of heightened Middle-East turmoil, there is pressure on the international community to lay the groundwork for a solution now. Publishing The Case for a Larger Israel on the web is the most productive way to refocus the international debate away from how to implement an unworkable two-state solution within the confines of Israel and "the territories," and toward a debate about the size Israel (and possibly a Palestinian State) should be, in order to be self-sustaining and viable in the long run.
Today, only Palestinian statelessness and Israel's security needs are discussed. Israel's need to be viable has not been considered by the international community since 1920, when the much larger original borders of what was to become British Mandate Palestine -- a homeland for the Jews -- were agreed upon.
The international consensus solution, two States -- one Israeli, one Palestinian -- within the confines of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank -- is based on fatally flawed assumptions. Even if two such States could be delineated by fiat, doing so would not produce a lasting peace. Neither State would be viable. And with ever advancing technology, and ever more powerful arsenals, it should be clear that failure to achieve true peace may eventually lead to a much wider and more lethal war.
Therefore, the assumptions underlying these international proposals must be revisited. The problem must be considered anew. A better approach to a sustainable peace must be found and pursued.
World leaders must first be educated to the improbability of establishing a successful Palestinian State in the limited space allocated to it. A RAND Corporation study suggests that to have even a chance of success, such a Palestinian State would require $33 billion of aid over 10 years, $50 billion of aid through 2019, and access to Israel's labor market. This approach is fantasy. Pursuing it will endanger the lives of some, and ruin the lives of many.
World leaders must also be re-educated to the fact that Israel's primary predicament -- its security risk -- is based on the long-standing Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict, not an Israel-Palestinian one. In other words, the establishment of a tiny Palestinian State by itself won't end Israel's security risk. Iranian and Hezbollah actions are helping to make this point clear. Less appreciated is that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power in Egypt and Syria if there were fair elections held in those countries today.
Finally, world leaders must then be persuaded to give weight to the fact that security is not Israel's only predicament. Israel may have the nuclear weapons capability to blow up many who hate it, but to exist as a healthy nation -- to be a viable State -- Israel's security and well being, including social, political, and economic needs must be unassailable. Viability is hard to precisely define. It is a concept that is best examined holistically because each State has its own unique circumstances.
In its pre-1967 borders, Israel's long-term viability is suspect because:
As the only Jewish majority State, it is necessary that Israel be viable in every sense. In the long-term, only an independently viable Israel can peacefully and successfully survive in the Middle East. Moreover, it is in humanity's interest that the Jewish people participate in the organization of civilization as an equal partner. The one Jewish majority State must be large enough to enable it to grow and thrive, not wither and decay. Because Israel exists, Jews around the world can more freely and openly do their part. It is astonishing that a population of less than 0.2% of the world's population has produced 22% of all Nobel laureates. In the fields of philanthropy, the humanities, science, the arts, medicine, internet connectivity, global communications, coming water shortage issues, energy issues, and more, a self sufficient, prosperous, and free Israel benefits humanity.
For the sake of Israelis and Arabs, lasting peace and the betterment of humanity, the failed status quo must change. Israel must exist on a plot of land large enough for it to be self-reliant. Palestinian Arabs must also either have their own plot of land large enough to create a viable State, or, they must be afforded the opportunity to achieve full self-determination as citizens of other Arab States.
What follows in Part I is Chapter I of my book; Part II is from
Chapters 17, 18 and 19. I encourage you to visit
http://www.alargerisrael.com, read the whole book, and join in the
effort to refocus international attention toward a lasting solution.
For years, many in the international community have been trying to bring about a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But peace has proved elusive.
Hezbollah's 2006 attack on Israel, and Israel's intense response, has reenergized the international effort to find a long-term solution to the seemingly intractable Palestinian- Israeli problem before a global catastrophe ensues. But the current approach is doomed to ultimate failure.
Global events in the first few years of the 21st century make it clear that the road to peace is filled with much more than mutual distrust that can be overcome by open dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians alone. For starters, the norm across much of the Middle East is fanatical anti-Semitism that equals, or exceeds Adolph Hitler's. Anti-Semitism is widely preached by Muslim clerics in mosques, is found in Arab government endorsed textbooks for children, and is publicly advanced by Islamic politicians.
The ascent of Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza, while in part due to the corruption of the previous Palestinian governing body, is a reflection of the wider disdain for Israel in the Arab and Muslim world. To Hamas, the duly elected governing party of the Palestinians, nothing short of the destruction of Israel is an acceptable final outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's in their charter. They do not hide it. They proclaim it with full candor: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated all others before it."
Those who dismiss Hamas' stand as mere political rhetoric are either patronizing or naïve. Hamas' leaders mean what they say. They may be practical about their time frame for Israel's ultimate destruction, but there is no reason to believe that they will ever truly waiver from their goal.
Some say that if the Palestinians had their own State in the West Bank and Gaza, all would be well for Israel. They believe that the plight of the Palestinians is the root cause of all hostilities against Israel. The idea of Palestinian Statehood in the West Bank and Gaza also fits neatly with conventional wisdom that holds that Israel can be any two of the following three, but never all three: (1) a democracy, (2) a Jewish state, and/or (3) a country composed of all of historic Israel -- whatever it is that historic Israel is defined to include.
The logic is this: If Israel remains a Jewish State, and includes all of historic Israel, it cannot be a democracy because retaining its Jewish identity means denying democracy to a substantial Arab population. Alternatively, if Israel consists of all of historic Israel, and wishes to be a full democracy, the inclusion of the local Arab population will cause it to lose its Jewish character. Therefore, assuming Israel wants to be Jewish and democratic, the only choice Israel really has is to accept being smaller. It cannot geographically include all of historic Israel.
But the risk inherent in trying to create a democratic Jewish State within the confines of the boundaries contemplated by this "only real choice" is that by withdrawing to a small plot of land, Israel may actually sow the seeds of its own destruction!
Nevertheless, the leadership in Israel for the last decade has taken this risk by choosing a policy that would eventually finalize the territorial borders of a Jewish democratic state in less than one percent of the territory lived in by those who wish it off the map.
The hoped outcome of assuming this risk is that doing so will entice Israel's enemies to leave it alone. It has been argued that creating a situation in which Palestinians have something, they would have something to lose, and they would behave as rational rivals that have something to lose. Specifically, Israeli governments have hoped that Palestinians would let go of the dream of a Greater Palestine inclusive of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the whole of Israel, and that this would in turn cause an end to all Arab and Muslim hostile action.
Israel's approach to its untenable geopolitical situation was decided upon because the international powers have presented and framed the issue in such a way that prevents any solution other than a "two state" solution within the confines of Israel and the territories. But the international consensus to limit Israel to a small plot of land, and the Palestinian Arabs to an even smaller one, is unworkable for Israel and the Palestinians.
For Israeli withdrawal to ultimately succeed, Israel has to hope that (1) the Palestinians as a whole actually do want peace with Israel, (2) Palestinian leadership is capable of making peace with Israel, not just for Palestinians, but for all Arab and IslaSmic countries, and (3) such a peace would not be considered by Israel's enemies to be a truce before an eventual destruction of the Jewish State by Arab or Muslim design.
After Israeli withdrawal, the Palestinians, if they truly would accept a State side by side with Israel, and if their Arab and Muslim brethren would allow them to make such a compromise, would be faced with the reality that their tiny independent Palestine is unlikely to ever become a viable State. An independent viable State containing that many people in the confines of the West Bank and Gaza is a tall order.
But a Palestinian State would not be the only State challenged by the issue of viability. Israel too, is confronted by the reality that a geographically undersized Jewish majority State in the Middle East is unlikely to be a viable entity that can thrive, prosper and endure in the long run.
What ingredients must be present to make a State viable? There is no agreed upon definitive recipe. But human decency suggests that viability of a State must mean something more than mere survival of its citizens. A definition of the word viable from Merriam-Webster is
a: capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately: viable alternatives;
b: capable of existence and development as an independent unit: the colony is now a viable state;
c: (1): having a reasonable chance of succeeding: a viable candidate (2): financially sustainable: viable enterprise.
The RAND Corporation identified the following criteria in examining the possibility for a successful Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza: 1) The ability to feed, cloth, educate and provide for the heath and social well-being of its people, 2) Permeable borders to allow for trade with neighbors, 3) Security of its borders and safety for its people, 4) Adequate territory, 5) Access to adequate supplies of power and water, 6) Adequate infrastructure for transporting goods, and 7) A strong system of education.
Additionally, the RAND Corporation concluded that no State can be deemed to be successful or viable until it becomes largely self-reliant, and that no State can be considered successful or viable unless its people have good economic opportunities and a good quality of life.
By these criteria, not all internationally recognized States, as they exist today, are viable. Many small ones are subsidized by larger ones. But the sole Jewish majority State has more pressure on it than other States to be viable for the welfare and security of its Jewish citizens, both physically and spiritually. The citizens of other small States may more easily relocate away from non-viable entities than the religiously distinct Jews of Israel.
For those who support the continued existence of a vibrant Israel, the existential question must be raised: How is Israel's prosperity and continuity -- real success -- best achieved?
Today's geopolitical realities must be taken into account, even though we may hope to facilitate and create the circumstances for a change in Israel's hostile environment.
The first predicament Israel faces is that the majority of Palestinians wish to push it into the sea, and hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims worldwide wish Israel the same deadly fate. To put it plainly, minimizing the size of a Jewish homeland is unlikely to end the larger conflict, even if local Palestinians were appeased by this action.
But it is nearly impossible to see how any Palestinian could ever be appeased when one weighs Palestinian pride against Israeli security requirements. To strike an agreement with even those Palestinians who do not want Israel destroyed, Israel would need to forego topographically necessary military security arrangements -- such as, 1) limiting Palestinian armament, 2) creating demilitarized zones, and 3) maintaining an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River, east of Palestinian population centers. Foregoing these military security arrangements poses a high degree of risk to Israel. Yet with these security arrangements in place, Israel would continue to impose limitations on Palestinian sovereignty that will never be accepted by a sufficient number of Palestinians. For Israel, it is a catch 22 in which the only way out is to risk its own destruction.
Ultimately, if the Israeli-Palestinian problem cannot be solved without risking Israel's demise, then the problem, as viewed with conventional wisdom, and taking into account current international constraints, cannot be successfully solved. It can only be talked about, or perhaps managed from one crisis to the inevitable next one. This is why so many thoughtful supporters of Israel find themselves in despair when they think about Israel's long-term prospects.
But there is another approach.
President Dwight Eisenhower once said: If a problem cannot be solved as it is, enlarge it. This is what must be done here. It is sure to spark controversy in the short-term, but it benefits all of humanity in the long-term. What international organizations and press now call the "Israeli-Palestinian problem" cannot be solved as an Israeli-Palestinian one. It can only be solved in the context of the underlying Israeli- Arab/Muslim problem. The problem must therefore be enlarged, and the hornet's nest must be dealt with.
Actually, it is not so much that the problem needs to be enlarged, as it is that the problem needs to be recognized around the globe for what it is. The issues therefore need to be properly framed for the international community. Only then can an appropriate solution be fashioned.
David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister said that the problem must never be made into one between the broader Arab/Muslim world and Israel. But ignoring the elephant in the room is not a long-term solution to Israel's precarious existence or world stability.
The elephant must be faced. Otherwise, the minimum amount of regional violence that can be expected is a periodic repeat of the 2006 Hezbollah attacks on Israel by other fanatical Muslim groups seeking the destruction of Israel. This will occur with more sophisticated weaponry, and more carnage, every few years for the foreseeable future. It is much more than Hezbollah that needs to be repressed.
Ariel Sharon, Israel's former Prime Minister, described the root of the problem as follows:
The conflict isn't between us and the Palestinians. The conflict is between us and the Arab world. And the problem at the heart of the conflict is that the Arab world does not recognize the Jews' inherent right to have a Jewish state in the land where the Jewish people began. This is the main problem. This also applies to Egypt, with which we have a cold peace. It also applies to Jordan, with which we have a very close strategic relationship, but this is a relationship between governments, not between peoples. The problem is not 1967. The problem is the profound nonrecognition by the Arab world of Israel's birthright.
If one views the problem as a dispute between Israel and only the Arabs living in and around Israel, one may incorrectly conclude that the stateless Palestinians just wish Israel harm because they are being oppressed. These Arabs will be viewed as victims of the militarily stronger Israelis. But if one uses a wider scope, the global context of the conflict becomes crystal clear. The overwhelming majority of Arabs, Sunni and Shi'a alike, in twenty-one separate Arab states and in the West Bank and Gaza, together with Muslims in Iran, wish to eliminate Israel -- albeit some in an extended time frame. Through this lens, the tiny Jewish State, which must fend off, political, military and economic onslaught, is fairly viewed as the aggrieved party. The map below shows the scale of Israel's problem. The vast majority of people who live within the current borders of the highlighted countries wish Israel permanent harm.
Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, would come to power in Egypt and Syria if there were fair elections held in those countries today.
This does not mean that one should abandon sympathy for the limited opportunities Palestinian Arabs have to lead a good life. It just means that recognizing the truth behind the misery will lead to reframing the issues and focusing on solutions that may end the misery of both Israelis and Palestinians.
The international community is focused on the end result of a two-state solution. There are tremendous pressures to solve the problem within the geographic confines of Israel and the territories. That is why even the Europeans are upset by Hamas' public refusal to accept Israel's existence. It rocks the current international hope that a permanent peaceful solution will be found by splitting the land, and that, Hezbollah aside, there will be no spillover of hostilities to the broader region.
But making Israelis and Palestinians share a plot of land that isn't big enough to adequately accommodate both will never successfully happen. Because Muslim and Arab States have focused world attention on the plight of Palestinian Arabs, and Israel has focused world attention on its primary predicament, its security risk, the international powers have understandably spent little energy on Israel's second predicament -- ensuring its long-term viability.
Considering Israel's viability may be easiest understood as a question: What beyond security does the world's only Jewish majority State need not just to survive in the short-term, but to thrive in the long run?
Criteria necessary for successful Statehood can be listed, as the RAND Corporation has done, but not all factors of viability can be precisely quantified. This fact is used by many to wrongly dismiss any question about Israel's viability altogether. It is true that one cannot quantify "good economic opportunities" or a "good quality of life." But quantifiable or not, it is clear that as other States, Israel minimally needs a combination of economic, territorial, political, diplomatic, and academic strength. To have a fair opportunity to thrive, the only Jewish majority State in the world must be geographically large enough to be self-reliant, or it will wither. Setting aside military attack and global boycotts of Israeli goods and services, size is the only factor relating to Israel's viability that is not directly related to the abilities of its citizens.
Since there is little doubt regarding the ability of Israelis to produce great things that benefit all of humanity, the fundamental questions surrounding Israel's viability is this: beyond security needs, what geographical boundaries does the only Jewish majority State need in order to thrive and flourish in the long run?
With a relatively clean slate after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the international community answered the question in 1920 -- a Jewish homeland on both sides of the river Jordan. Unfortunately, to the detriment of a viable Jewish State, as politics changed, the answer to this question changed as well. The area designated for a Jewish homeland got smaller, and then smaller still.
In part, the true answer to the question of Israel's size is dependant on the manner in which the Israeli-Arab/ Muslim conflict is resolved. But in part, the answer actually dictates the terms of any successful resolution to the Israeli- Arab/Muslim conflict. The interrelationship between Israel's two predicaments -- security and long-term viability -- is complicated, and realistic long-term solutions seem far- fetched because they are not in keeping with current international will. Today, only Israel's military security is given fair weight in international circles, even though much more than military security is necessary for a State to survive, prosper and flourish -- to be viable.
* * * * *
If one agrees that in the global village of hundreds of Nation States, there is room for one Jewish majority State, it follows that this State should be viable in all respects.
Readers of the book will clearly understand why confining Israel to its pre '67 armistice borders will doom Israel in the long term.
Even if Israel needs to be five times larger than it is now, it
would still be less than 1% of the size of its Arab neighbors. It
would still be half the size of Ecuador, and no one ever accused
Ecuador of seeking to become "Greater Ecuador." The accusation that
seeking a larger Israel is akin to Lebensraum, the Nazi German plan to
expand east so there would be more room for Aryan Germans, is
unfounded. Germany had steak and wanted caviar. Israel has matzo and
is in need of bread.
There is this just concern: if Israel becomes larger, what happens to the Palestinians? Those Palestinians who do not wish to leave should be welcome to stay. But for the sake of a broader peace, there is a one condition that must be imposed on Palestinians for living in Israel, outside of the vast lands in the extended region that are governed by 21 recognized Muslim Arab States. They must declare their loyalty and acceptance of Israel as a Zionist Jewish State, and they must commit to performing national service. Those who choose not to make such a pledge should not be considered citizens. They should be considered resident foreign nationals with citizenship of Jordan, Syria, or another State in which Arabs are the majority.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that a poll taken in early 2004 by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion -- well before the Fatah-Hamas bloodbath -- showed that 37% of Palestinians would emigrate in return for a home, a job and $250,000.
This makes sense. Consider the alternative -- living in a non-viable 22nd Arab State.
The "territories" are simply not large enough to support an independent viable Palestinian State.
That is why Palestinians who want to leave should be encouraged to do so by the their Muslim brothers and the international community. Payment of a reasonable amount of money, either per person, or per property, to move one person at a time is a worthwhile endeavor if it brings peace and stability to this part of the Middle-East.
Of course, if other Arab States refuse to embrace and welcome Palestinian Arabs as new citizens with full rights, the global need for regional peace and stability will force the international community to decide on a location for a new viable Palestinian State. In chapter 18 of the book, I consider two possibilities: 1) a State in Jordan, which actually has elements of inevitability, and 2) a State in present day Saudi Arabia.
When all the circumstances of the situation are taken into account, two States living side-by-side in this small place is not a viable option for either Israelis or the Palestinians. The imperfect solution offered in the book -- a larger Israel, and new homes for Palestinians -- is the most just outcome possible.
Why? Because Palestinian Arabs have options: They and their children can live happy full lives in a Jewish State if they accept that they live in a Jewish State. (Being a minority in a State that endorses the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not a tragedy.) They can resettle and live happy full lives in any one of a number of States with Arab and Muslim majorities. And they can also live happy full lives in a new State that can be created for them from within the vast empty spaces of the 99+% of the region occupied by the Arab States.
The Jews of Israel, on the other hand, have no options. They have
nowhere else to go. It is the only State in which Jews are the
majority, and so, Israel must be viable. It is not a prerequisite that
Arabs and Muslims love Israel for it to prosper. For Israel the
question is: How large does it need to be in order to be a viable
State in the long-term? All other questions are not matters of life
1. Andrew Sullivan of the New York Times Magazine, wrote the following on the eve of the Iraq war in 2002. "Fanatical anti-Semitism, as bad or even worse than Hitler's, is now the norm across much of the Middle East. It is the glue that unites, Saddam, Arafat, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran and the Saudis." Andrew Sullivan, "Anti-Semitism sneaks into the anti-war camp," New York Times, October 20, 2002 Available at www. freerepublic.com/focus/news/772423/posts.
2. See Memri (The Middle East Media Research Institute), for instance, "Islamist Websites and their Hosts, Part II: Clerics," Special Report 35, November 11, 2005, available at www.memri.org.
3. See Memri (The Middle East Media Research Institute), for instance, "The Schools of Ba'athism. A Study of Syrian Schoolbooks." Special Report 4, January 1, 2000, available at www.memri.org.
4. See Memri (The Middle East Media Research Institute), for instance, "Iranian Leaders: Statements and Positions (Part I)," Special Report 39, January 5, 2006, available at www.memri.org.
5. The following are a few sentences from the Hamas Charter (the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."..."Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised."... "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up." Available at www.mideastweb. org/hamas.htm.
6. Text from the Hamas Charter, available at mideastweb.org/hamas.htm.
7. See https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2147rank.html.
8. See comments by Ami Ayalon, commander of the Israel Navy
(1991-1995/6), and head of the Shin Bet (1996-2000), interviewed by
Ari Shavit, "Clearly Speaking," Haaretz, February 10, 2006,
9. Merriam-Webster Online at www.m-w.com/dictionary/viable.
10. See RAND Study Team, Simon, Steven N. et al., Building a Successful Palestine State (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2005).
11. See RAND Study Team, Simon, Steven N. et al., Building a Successful Palestine State (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2005).
12. Dershowitz, p. 162, citing Thomas Friedman column, NY Times, March 18, 2002.
13. See www.defensibleborders.org.
14. Ariel Sharon interviewed by Ari Shavit, "The General," The New Yorker, January 23 & 30, 2006.
15. E.g., Hamas offers a long-term ceasefire, not permanent peace. For Arafat's allusion to a phased plan to destroy Israel see text pp. 95-96, and endnotes 17 and 18 of Chapter 8, infra.
16. This is the conclusion of Richard W. Bulliet, Professor in the Middle East Institute, at Columbia University, and Bernard Haykel, Professor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, at NYU, interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show, July 18, 2006.
David Naggar is an attorney and businessman in the San Francisco Bay Area, and author of the book, The Case for a Larger Israel, downloadable free at
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