Israel Report

April 2001         

Some Basic Principles of the Arab-Jewish Conflict




Corollary A.

Whereas the Arabs have an absolute goal, Israel’s elimination from the Middle East, the Jews have a pathetically limited goal, “peace.”

Corollary B.

Whereas the Arabs are animated by religion, Israel is animated by politics. Accordingly, while Arabs are ideologically uncompromising and are ready to die for their cause, Israel’s leaders will take “risks for peace” to the extent of abiding by agreements which the Arabs have brazenly and repeatedly violated.

Principle II.

Because Islam is an autocratic and militant creed, Arabs do not suffer from a conflict between theory and practice. In contrast, Jews have trapped themselves in a contradiction between being Jewish and being democrats. (Hence they endow disloyal Arab citizens and Knesset members with equal political rights.)

Corollary A.

Whereas Jews will sacrifice their Judaism for democracy, Arabs will sacrifice themselves for Allah.

Corollary B.

While Arab states are proud, their individual citizens are meek. In contrast, the State of Israel is meek while its individual citizens are chutzpahdik.

Principle III.

When negotiating with an Arab state, Israel deals not with the people of that state, but with its ruler. When an Arab state negotiates with Israel, it deals not merely with Israel’s prime minister, but with a pluralistic and easily divided society.

Corollary A.

Any treaty between Israel and an Arab state will be precarious, for it will depend primarily on the will of a single man – the Arab ruler. In contrast, Israeli politicians are under the (fallacious) impression that a democracy must abide by its agreements, if only because these have been approved by the people’s representatives.

Principle IV.

It is much more difficult for a democracy than for a dictatorship to pursue a long-range foreign policy. The reason is simple enough: democratic elections lead to frequent changes in the government.

Corollary A.

It is far more difficult for Israel, a pluralistic society, to achieve national unity, especially when its parliamentary electoral laws foster a multiplicity of single-issue parties. Arab dictatorships do not suffer from this dilemma.

Principle V.

Whereas Israel’s media are predominantly left-wing and will deliberately subvert any so-called right-wing Israeli government, the Arab media are controlled by the state.

Principle VI.

In Israel, cultural and moral relativism influences virtually every level of secular education and thereby undermines conviction in the justice of Israel’s cause. In contrast, moral absolutism dominates the education of the Arabs and sustains conviction in the justice of their cause.


Since its rebirth in 1948, Israel has been engaged in an unremitting war with the Arab-Islamic world. The war has many facets: military, diplomatic, economic, and psychological. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, Israel has never really won a single war, for she has never dictated the terms of peace. Moreover, Israel’s leaders have never contemplated, let alone pursued, a strategy designed to win this protracted conflict. They are overwhelmed by the number of Moslems surrounding minuscule Israel. Hence, Israel seldom takes the initiative vis-à-vis her enemies. Her overwhelming tendency is to react (or not react at all). In other words, Israel’s leaders do not think of going on a sustained offensive designed to undermine the Arab-Islamic world and its influence on the West.

This can be done. But then Israel would need a statesman of the highest caliber for the purpose, and he will have to have a very different structure of government. The present structure, with its multiplicity of parties in the cabinet, is an unmitigated disaster. Given such a structure no prime minister can overcome the asymmetries mentioned above or avoid their pernicious consequences.

Ariel Sharon has some of the characteristics of the statesman I have in mind, but he lacks not only the right political institutions, but a true understanding of, and commitment to, Israel’s world-historical purpose. The statesman I have in mind must first prompt Israel to strive for internal perfection as a proud and Jewishly oriented commonwealth. He must then translate Israel’s moral and intellectual progress into an ideologically oriented foreign policy that places the Arab-Islamic world on the defensive. That world is quite vulnerable, but one must be wise and subtle as well as strong and determined to win the victory.

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