THE FIRST AND PARAMOUNT PRINCIPLE GOVERNING THE ARAB-JEWISH CONFLICT IS
THE CONFLICT IS ASYMMETRICAL.
Whereas the Arabs have an absolute goal, Israel’s elimination
from the Middle East, the Jews have a pathetically limited goal, “peace.”
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.
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.)
Whereas Jews will sacrifice their Judaism for democracy, Arabs
will sacrifice themselves for Allah.
While Arab states are proud, their individual citizens are
meek. In contrast, the State of Israel is meek while its individual
citizens are chutzpahdik.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.