Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
After more than 50 years of Zionist activities-among them many decades over the international diplomatic front-and on looking back on the experiences gained in the 20 years of the existence of the state of Israel, I am beginning to have doubts as to whether the establishment of the state of Israel as it is today, a state like all other states in structure and form, was the fullest accomplishment of the Zionist idea and its twofold aim: to save Jews suffering from discrimination and persecution by giving them the opportunity for a decent and meaningful life in their own homeland; second, to ensure the survival of the Jewish people against the threat of disintegration and disappearance in those parts of the world where they enjoy full equality of rights. In expressing and explaining these thoughts, I want to make it clear that I have no doubt as to the historical justification and moral validity of Zionism. The concentration of a large part of the Jewish people in their own national home, where they are masters of their destiny, seems to me to be the only way to solve what has been called for centuries "the Jewish problem."
The character both of the Jewish people and of Jewish history can alone explain and justify the Zionist idea, criticized today by many anti-Israel countries and groups as a form of aggressive colonialism which has robbed the Arab people of a part of their patrimony. Any definition of the Jews as a race, a people, a religion, is incomplete; it is the combination of all these elements which accounts for the singular character and the unique destiny of Judaism. There is no other example of a people which has lost its own state and country of origin, which is dispersed in countries all over the world, which has gone through hundreds of years of persecution- from simple discrimination and denial of equal rights to the barbaric annihilation of millions by the Nazis-and which not only survived these tragic periods, but has consistently made notable contributions to civilization. In our own generation, the three greatest figures, who may have influenced our present life and thinking more than any others-Marx, Freud and Einstein-have been Jews. With such a history, the Jewish people certainly deserves to be given the means for its survival; and humanity, having been responsible for hundreds of years of suffering and having failed to do anything radical to save the Jewish people in the Nazi period, owes this people a moral debt which can be discharged only by helping it to secure its survival.
Experience has shown that only a country of its own, however small, can serve this purpose. And only Palestine can be this country, in view of the religious, emotional and even mystical attachment of the Jews to "Eretz Israel," the Land of Israel, in which they made their greatest contribution to human civilization; which in no period of their history they were ready to forget; and for the return to which they prayed and longed for during thousands of years. Only because of this particular attachment of the dispersed people to its country of origin can the Jewish claim to Palestine be justified against the Arab argument that it belongs to them because they lived there as a majority for several centuries. Under normal rules of international life, there is no question that the Arab claim has meaning and substance, and it would be foolish and unfair to deny its justification. Dr. Chaim Weizmann repeatedly declared that the Arab-Jewish conflict with regard to Palestine is a clash between two rights, not between right and wrong, and that is what makes it so complex and difficult. Only if one understands the singularity of the Jewish people (which has nothing to do with any notion of superiority) and its tragic history can one presume that the Jewish claim is morally and historically superior. The Arab peoples possess immense territories in which they are masters of their destiny, and their survival and future are in no way endangered by their renunciation of their claim to a very small part of their overall territorial expanse; whereas tiny Palestine is for the Jewish people the only means of survival and the sole guarantee of a creative future. The fact that in a relatively short period of time most of the peoples of the world have recognized this claim and that, under the impact of the Nazi tragedy, more than two-thirds of the United Nations approved the idea of a Jewish state in a part of Palestine-the Soviet as well as the Western bloc voting in favor-proves realistically the validity of the Jewish right as against the Arab one.
It is the very uniqueness of the Jewish problem and of the Zionist idea as its solution which, in the last analysis, makes me doubt whether the creation and existence of a Jewish state no different in structure and character from any other state can be the real implementation of Zionism. Even in those bygone years when I, with many other Zionist leaders, fought on the diplomatic front for the acceptance of the Jewish claim for a state in Palestine, I pondered whether we should not ask for a state of a specific character, more in conformity with the special nature of the Jewish people and Jewish history. Together with Dr. Weizmann, Ben Gurion and Moshe Sharett I was among the protagonists of the idea of a partition of Palestine as the inevitable condition for creating a Jewish state after the war. Even in those days I considered the possibility of asking for a specific form of state; but I felt then that, with all the difficulties inherent in getting the consent of the majority of nations for a Jewish state at all, it would be too much to ask at the same time for a unique character for this state.
More than 20 years have now gone by since the creation of the state of Israel. The experiences gained in these two decades have led me to the conviction that to guarantee its survival and to make sure that it fulfills its raison d'être as the main instrument of Jewish future, one must begin to think of a specific character and form for this state.
My growing skepticism as to the present form of Israel's existence is based on the two decisive conditions for its future and survival. These two conditions are, on the one hand, the relation between Israel and the Arab world in whose midst it exists, and on the other hand its relation with the Jewish people, in its large majority dispersed over the world. These two problems will decide the destiny of Israel. From a short-term point of view, it may seem that the United States and the Soviet Union are more important factors in Israel's international position, but seen from a long- term point of view, in the context of Jewish and general history, the Arab and the Jewish aspect of Israel's position is much more fundamental and decisive.
As far as the relations with the Arab world are concerned, it was one of the shortcomings of the Zionist movement that, in its early years, it did not fully realize the gravity and importance of this problem. Theodor Herzl, the author of the Judenstaat (the Jewish State) and founder of the Zionist movement, once said that the Zionist idea is a very simple one-that all it has to do is to "transport a people without a country to a country without a people." This formula, like all oversimplifications, was wrong in both its premises: a large part of the Jewish people after the Emancipation was already a people with a country, and Palestine, inhabited for centuries by the Arabs, was certainly not a country without a people. It is true at the same time that neither in ideology nor in practical political action Zionism ever thought of having to resort to an armed conflict with the Arab world in order to create the Jewish state. It was the-maybe naïve-hope and belief of the Zionist movement that it would be possible to get Arab consent to the creation of a Jewish homeland or a Jewish state by bringing the blessings of Western civilization into Palestine, which was then sparsely populated, by providing room for new immigrants through economic and social development of the country and through the fact of being part of the same Semitic race. Many Zionist leaders tried hard to bring about such a consent: from the negotiations of Dr. Weizmann after the First World War with Emir Faisal and his success in obtaining his agreement to a Jewish state, through all the years of endeavors by Ben Gurion, Sharett, myself (when I represented the Jewish Agency in Geneva at the League of Nations) and other Zionist leaders. All these attempts were unfortunately unsuccessful. And when the Arab states rejected the decision of the United Nations to partition Palestine and establish a Jewish state in part of it, and reacted to the creation of the state by the invasion of the country by their armies, it was inevitable that the state from its first days had to be defended by military action.
The inevitability of this development does not diminish its tragic character. The first War of Liberation was followed by two other major wars, and from all three Israel emerged victorious-most decisively from the 1967 Six Day War. But these victories have not, for the time being, brought nearer any solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Victories in themselves, however important they are psychologically both for the victor and the defeated, are meaningful only if they lead to stability and peace. The fact that nearly three years after the overwhelming victory of the Six Day War none of the Arab states is ready to negotiate directly with Israel and certainly not to sign a formal peace treaty indicates the depth of Arab resentment and the categorical Arab rejection of the Jewish state. The Arab world regards Israel as a foreign element in its midst and refuses to accept its existence. This feeling is growing with every new Israeli victory, so as to compensate for the Arab sentiment of humiliation and inferiority. The hope to impose peace on the Arab world, either by pressure of the big powers or by another Israeli victory, is more than slim. History proves that an imposed peace does not last long, even if a defeated people is forced for a certain time to accept a truce extracted by arms. In the case of Israel and the Arabs, this probability is much smaller in view of the tremendous numerical superiority of the Arab peoples which no Jewish immigration, however large, can hope to match and which must, particularly considering the much higher Arab birth rate, lead to an ever-growing numerical disproportion. At the moment, and probably for some time to come, the qualitative superiority of Israel is outstanding; it is unrealistic, however, to rely on it forever: the Arab peoples have created a brilliant civilization in the past and will no doubt one day acquire the technical know-how of the West, both in peaceful endeavors and in warfare.
For both parties to the conflict, the present state of affairs has disastrous consequences, by imposing on Israelis and Arabs alike the necessity to mobilize and strengthen their arms potential, by diverting their efforts to a large degree from social and economic progress to military efforts. For Israel these consequences are even more significant- in a negative way-than for the Arabs, because at least qualitatively it must maintain equality and even superiority against the many surrounding states and in view of the impact of the situation on its international position. The hope of some Israeli leaders that time is on their side and that the Arabs, recognizing Israel's military capability, will be more ready to accept the fait accompli of Israel's existence, seems to me based on very tenuous assumptions. The attitude of the Arab leaders, both of the conservative and the revolutionary type, and the state of mind of the new Arab generation, as reported by experts, show that rather than diminishing, their rejection of Israel and their determination not to accept it are growing.
The Arab peoples are characterized by an unusual capability of ignoring or discarding realities. When defeated they attach their hopes to a new war with a possible victory, and have been doing this, with regard to Israel, after three defeats. They draw an analogy with the Crusaders' state which, after long domination, was destroyed by Saladin, This fundamental psychological trait of the Arabs, which explains their seemingly unrealistic approach, is shared also by the Jews. If, in centuries of persecution, discrimination and misery, the Jewish people had accepted the realities of its fate, there would not be a Jewish people today; but against the tragedy of their situation, the Jews reacted with increasing faith and passionate hopes for the coming of the Messiah.
In addition to the growing hostility of the Arab world, from an international point of view, the political position of Israel is also becoming more difficult and isolated. It has lost much of the sympathy aroused by the brutal Arab threats of 1967 to annihilate the Jews in Israel physically in case of their victory, and by the admiration caused by Israel's brilliant victory. Today the whole communist world-with some exceptions-is fundamentally anti-Israel. France has changed its position from a friendly to an unfriendly one. Nobody can say whether England inclines more to the Arabs or to Israel. Over twenty Arab and Moslem states, and countries with large Moslem populations, like India, are hostile to Israel. The only real and decisive political support of Israel at the moment is supplied by the United States and a few smaller West European countries. But the experience of the last twenty years has shown that American backing cannot be taken for granted, as was demonstrated so dramatically in the wake of the Suez-Sinai campaign. The recent statements by Secretary of State Rogers, and the rejection of his proposals by the Israeli Government, indicate again the possibility of a deterioration of the fundamentally friendly policy of the United States toward Israel, and have caused serious worries and disquiet in Israel. One must realize that for a normal diplomat, whose policies are determined by day-to-day interests rather than by great visions or moral concepts, 80 to 90 million Arabs and many more million Moslems, in possession of the Middle Eastern lands with the richest oil resources in the world, weigh more heavily than the small state of Israel, even taking into account its Jewish periphery. In decades of political work I have nearly always found all foreign ministries to be anti-Zionist and anti-Israel. Only exceptional statesmen with a great historical outlook, like Lloyd George, Balfour, General Smuts, President Wilson, could overcome their prosaic, realistic concerns in favor of the moral concept underlying the Jewish claim for a country of their own.
Another negative consequence of this permanent state of war is the change of image of the young state of Israel, which is more admired in the world today for its military brilliance than for its spiritual achievements. Although the world justly admires the strength and the courage, the resourcefulness and the unexpected talents of Israel's army, this is certainly nothing either unique or specific to the Jewish people, nor have other peoples and civilizations been admired and remembered in history primarily for their military accomplishments. It is furthermore not to be underestimated that in many parts of the world it is the reactionary, nationalistic groups which have become the sponsors and admirers of Israel, whereas large parts of the progressive world have become disappointed and antagonistic to Israel, In its classical days, Zionism was a movement favored and supported by liberal, progressive and radical groups all over the world. This has changed considerably and may change even more if the present situation prevails.
From a Jewish point of view, too, the situation presents negative consequences of far-reaching importance. The large majority of the Jewish people lives outside the state of Israel and it must be taken for a fact that, despite all appeals, there is no reasonable expectation for very large immigration in the coming years. Israel had grown from its initial 650,000 to two and a half million inhabitants by absorbing the natural reservoir of Jews who had to come to the Jewish state as their only country of salvation-half a million Nazi victims from the camps after the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews in Moslem countries who were the first victims of Arab antagonism to Israel, and large numbers of Jews from Eastern Europe. The one remaining large community which could, in previous decades, have been an obvious source for large-scale immigration into Israel, Soviet Jewry, is unable to come as long as the U.S.S.R. is hostile. Even if one day this impediment should be overcome, I doubt whether a major part of Soviet Jewry would go to Israel; to count on a few hundred thousands may not be unrealistic, but there will certainly not be millions (and I refrain from speaking of the tremendous problem of their absorption). Unless something tragic and unexpected happens, like large- scale persecution of Jews in Western countries, it is unlikely that within the foreseeable future the large majority of Jews living outside the Jewish state will settle in Israel.
This too is characteristic of the specific situation and structure of the Jewish people, and it explains why the existence and development of Israel are so decisive for the survival of the Jewish people as a whole. The two great challenges-to use Toynbee's terminology-which account for the miracle of Jewish survival in the dispersion were, on the one hand, the permanent persecution, the impossibility for Jews to forget their Jewishness and the feeling of solidarity this generated and, on the other hand, the tremendous power of the Jewish religion, the set of laws which regulated the life of the Jewish individual and collectivity in the days of the ghetto and constituted, in Heinrich Heine's famous formula, the "portable fatherland" which every Jew carried along with him in all his migrations. (To give an example only of our days: the persecution and annihilation of millions of Jews by the Nazis made the survivors more conscious of their Jewishness, gave them a feeling of guilt for not having been able to save the victims and inspired them with the determination not to allow a similar tragedy to recur.)
Both these motivations have to a great degree lost their impact nowadays. Anti-Semitism is no more what it used to be in past centuries; Jews everywhere enjoy equality of rights and have become more and more integrated into the political, social, economic and cultural life of the countries in which they live. Simultaneously, the Jewish religion has ceased to be, at least for the larger part of the Jewish people, the great authoritative force which guides their daily life and guarantees their identity and distinctive character. It must be recalled that the Nazi holocaust destroyed precisely those great Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe which maintained fully the Jewish tradition and created all the ideas on which the Jewish people today bases its spiritual existence, and that they cannot be replaced by the Jewish communities in the free world of today, which do not lead their own separate cultural life. The existence of Israel as the new center where Jewish civilization can be continued and where new ideas will be created, as a source of challenge and inspiration for Diaspora Jewry, is therefore much more essential for Jewish survival today than was even envisaged by Zionist ideologists before the Nazi period.
For the survival of the Jewish people as a whole, but also from the point of view of Israel's future, it is no exaggeration to say that the problem of Israel-Jewish relations, the ties which attach Jewish communities and individuals in the Diaspora to the state of Israel, is the number-one problem on which the success or failure of the Zionist solution of the Jewish question will finally depend. There are other peoples who have diasporas, sometimes counting millions, but these diasporas are unimportant in comparison with the vast majority of the peoples living in their own country and state. For example, if-as is probable-the German diaspora in the United States or in South America will assimilate and disappear as a distinct minority in the future, or if the same thing happens to the Italian minority on the American continent, this will in no way endanger the existence of the German or the Italian people and state. But if, for argument's sake, the Jewish Diaspora were to assimilate itself to such a degree that it would lose all interest in the state of Israel, the survival of the state would be nearly impossible. Without the solidarity and coöperation of world Jewry, the state of Israel would never have come into existence, because it is ludicrous to assume that 650,000 Jews without the millions of others backing them could have established a Jewish state in the midst of the Arab world. Without the economic, financial and political help of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, the state would have been unable to secure its existence, develop its economy, build up its brilliant army and provide possibilities for the immigration of more than a million and a half needy Jews. To strengthen this solidarity is therefore the condition sine qua non for the future of Israel.
The present character and structure of the state, however, endanger this basic precondition of Israel's survival. Its participation in international politics and its conflict with the Arab countries must inevitably bring Israeli policies into situations which clash with the political attitudes of many other states. This, in turn, in the present atmosphere of state nationalism, must lead to problems as far as the attachment and solidarity of Jews in the Diaspora with the state of Israel are concerned. A few examples of events in recent years illustrate this fact: hundreds of thousands of Jews had to leave the Moslem countries because of the Arab- Israeli wars; the Jewish communities of South Africa and above all Russia have to face serious problems partly because of the policies of Israel, which may be fully justified from the point of view of the state as it is today, but create difficulties for the Jews living in countries to which Israel is in opposition (what happened in France is a clear and additional manifestation of this problem). All this means that a Jewish state which requires the solidarity and the coöperation of the great majority of the Jewish people for its survival must have a character which can claim the sympathy of Jewish communities wherever they live.
Finally, the present situation has another and by far not the least negative consequence for the moral, spiritual and cultural character of Israel. This aspect is important if Israel is to fulfill its historical task of securing Jewish survival all over the world; it requires that Israel become a center of attraction, the greatest challenge for the best, most idealistic elements of the young generation, which is in great danger of largely being lost to the Jewish people within a few decades. An Israel at war, in permanent mobilization, cannot become this center. There are limits to the possibilities and capabilities of even the most gifted and purposeful people. The tremendous effort which Israel had. to make in order to maintain its military strength and superiority, and which it will have to continue to make to an ever-increasing degree, naturally deflects a large part of its creative resources from cultural and spiritual endeavors. An Israel at war can attract thousands of volunteers, but it will not attract tens of thousands of young Jews who are dissatisfied with their present form of life-particularly in such rich countries as the United States-who look for more idealistic ways of existence and who would be natural candidates for immigration into Israel. One can but imagine what even in the very short lapse of 20 years could have been created by the dynamic genius of Israel-culturally, scientifically, spiritually-if its young, gifted and creative generation, with its tremendous energy and élan, not to speak of the billions of dollars, had been concentrated on science, literature, social experiments and similar tasks, instead of having had to build and maintain, as its greatest and most successful achievement, the brilliant army of the young state.
What is the answer to these questions? I belong, as my record proves, among the very first proponents of the idea of partition of Palestine. I was always a political Zionist, in the sense that I believed that Jews must have a state of their own to secure their identity and civilization. More and more, however, I am coming to the conclusion that Israel cannot be one of the more than a hundred so-called sovereign national states as they exist today and that, instead of relying primarily and exclusively on its military and political strength, it should be not merely accepted but guaranteed, de jure and de facto, by all the peoples of the world, including the Arabs, and put under the permanent protection of the whole of mankind. This neutralization would certainly be an exception to the normal forms of modern states but, as I indicated before, the Jewish people and the Jewish history are unique. Their singular character and ceaseless suffering-particularly during the Nazi catastrophe-allow the Jewish state to demand from the world the right to establish its own national center in its old homeland and to guarantee its existence. How this guarantee should be practically formulated and implemented will have to be thought out and elaborated. There may be a slight precedent for it in the neutrality of Switzerland, which was guaranteed by the major powers more than 150 years ago, with lasting results. If Switzerland, because of its history and tradition, was and is entitled to claim and obtain the respect for its specific neutral character, the Jewish people and Israel certainly have an even greater moral claim to it.
This neutralization of Israel would naturally have important consequences for the character and the activities of the state. It would have to keep itself outside the sphere of power politics. Switzerland, for example, is not a member of the United Nations, because it is more than difficult to be in the United Nations and remain really neutral, abstaining from decisions which indicate a political position in favor of one or another of the groups and blocs in the world. Neutralization may even mean that a permanent symbolic international force may have to be stationed in the state of Israel, so that any attack on it would imply an attack on all the states guaranteeing Israel's existence and neutrality and participation in this international force. (To avoid misunderstandings, I would add that this does not signify the demilitarization of Israel and the abolition of its army, as long as there are no proof and experience to show the effectiveness of the international guarantee.) But by the nature of things, especially if this guarantee were tied up with a control of arms deliveries to the countries of the Middle East-a plan much discussed these days-the importance of the army and armaments would be reduced the more the guarantee and the neutralization become a reality, and this would allow Israel, as I said, to concentrate fully on its economic, cultural and spiritual efforts.
I can well imagine that such a neutralization could be the basis for an Arab-Israeli settlement and peace. Psychological and emotional motives are primarily at the root of the enduring Arab-Israeli conflict, as of most conflicts. All the factual problems-refugees, borders, etc.-could be solved without too great difficulties if there were goodwill and eagerness to reach an understanding. Seen from this aspect, the greatest hindrance in Arab-Israeli relations is the humiliation which the Arab world has suffered time and again by its military defeats. Whoever knows the Arabs, their history and character, agrees that pride is one of their most excessive virtues. But an appeal to the generosity of the Arabs, to be guarantors with the rest of the world for a Jewish state in a tiny part of the tremendous territories at their disposal-however unrealistic it may sound at the moment-may be more effective in the long run for an Arab-Israeli coexistence than one Israeli victory after another.
Neutralization would also do away with one of the major and understandable fears of the Arab world, namely the worry about possible Israeli territorial expansion on the one hand and, on the other, the obstacle which Israel, by its geopolitical position, represents to the ideal of a united policy for the Arab world. A guaranteed neutrality of Israel, including the guarantee of its boundaries after the settlement of the present conflict, would do away with the Arab fear of Israeli aggression and expansion. A neutralized Israel, outside the sphere of power politics, would not be a handicap for the policies of a united Arab world, which sooner or later will have to emerge in this period tending toward the creation of larger units comprising many sovereign states. I mention, in this regard, a conversation between Nasser and Dag Hammarskjöld, who tried several times in talks with him to find a basis for an Arab-Israeli agreement, and on which Hammarskjöld reported to me. Nasser, Hammarskjöld told me, had indicated that maybe the Arabs would acquiesce in the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state in part of it, but they could never accept that Israel, by its location, partitions the whole Arab world-between Morocco and Iraq-and makes a united Arab policy very difficult. A neutralized Jewish state would do away with this fear.
The solution I suggest would depend on two preconditions. The first and obvious one is that the present crisis and war between Israel and the Arabs find an end by some kind of agreement between the parties, the exact nature of which this essay would not attempt to outline. Although nothing can be done concretely toward the implementation of my concept until this is achieved, if the concept should be accepted, it would naturally influence the character of the settlement of the present conflict.
The second precondition would be a basic settlement of the greatest human and emotional obstacle to Arab-Israeli understanding, namely the Arab refugee problem. Its main solution would have to consist in financing the settlement of the major part of the refugees in Cis- and Transjordan, which experts believe to be technically feasible; in Israel's acceptance, even as a matter of principle, of a limited number of Arab refugees; and possibly in yielding the Gaza Strip to Israel, on condition that it integrate the 200,000 Arabs living there as equal citizens.
There was a time when I advocated, privately and publicly, as a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the establishment of a confederation of states of the Middle East in which Israel should be a member. In such a confederation the Arabs would naturally be the majority and Israel would have to adapt its world policies to their desires. When I negotiated the idea of partition in 1945 with Dean Acheson, the then Undersecretary of State, and got his agreement, followed later by the consent of President Truman to this idea, I submitted to him a memorandum on behalf of the Zionist Executive, formulating our proposal as twofold: a Jewish state in part of Palestine and this state as part of a confederation of Middle Eastern states. In view of the experience of the last 20 years, I am no longer convinced of the practicability of this solution. First of all, because of Arab individualism and the tremendous cleavage between the feudalistic Arab forces of yesterday and the revolutionary forces of today, it will take a very long time for the Arab world to unite and form such a confederation. Secondly, and even more decisively, if this day should come, Israel as the only Jewish state in such a confederation would be overwhelmed by the enormous numerical superiority of the Arabs, even if a few non-Arab states were to participate.
In the last two years, another solution suggested by certain Arabs as well as by some Israelis has been gaining the sympathy of Left-leaning pro-Arab groups in the free world. It proposes the recognition of the Palestinian people in Cis-jordan which (in the suggestion of El Fatah) would form one democratic Palestinian state together with Israel or (the solution favored by the Israeli proponents) would be recognized as a state of its own, linked in a federation with Israel. I do not regard this as practical, either from a Jewish or an Arab point of view.
From the Jewish aspect, such a unitarian Palestinian state would do away with the Jewish character of Israel. Had the purpose of Zionism been merely to save homeless and persecuted Jews, this concept might have been of value. But the Zionist ideal was to create a state which, beyond offering refuge to a number of suffering Jews, would be determined by its Jewish majority and would enable the Jewish people to maintain its traditions, develop its genius and contribute to world civilization. This aim could not be achieved by a binational Arab-Jewish Palestinian state, particularly in view of the higher birthrate of the Arab population, which would in a short while become the majority and do away with the Jewish character of this state-even if, as is the case in Lebanon, the equal position of both parts of the population, irrespective of their number, were to be guaranteed constitutionally. In addition, the Arab citizens of such a unitarian Palestinian state would, quite naturally, tend to side with the neighboring Arab states and would, consciously or unconsciously, constitute a "fifth column" within the state.
From an Arab point of view, genuine patriots will not agree to a Palestinian state which would imply their separation from the main body of the Arab world and would make them dependent on the superior strength and know-how of the Jewish citizens, with their greater technical and scientific knowledge and larger financial and economic means,
As for a federation between an Arab and a Jewish state, from an Arab point of view, the Israeli part would be economically and technologically so much superior that the Arab component would be practically a satellite of the Jewish one, which the Arab world would of course never accept.
For all these reasons, the idea seems to me-despite a certain attractiveness-unrealistic and unfeasible. I suggest, instead, the neutralization of the Jewish state of Israel.
Let me now deal with the chances for this proposal which at first glance may seem Utopian and not to be implemented. The emergence of the state of Israel shows that one must not be too hasty in characterizing radical, visionary proposals as quixotic and unrealistic. We are living in a great revolutionary period, probably the most revolutionary of human history, with tremendous events taking place again and again that even experts would have regarded as impossible a short while before. There are a number of arguments and facts which favor my solution and make it appear as practicable.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is a permanent grave worry to the world at large. It is one of the possible major causes of a world conflagration, in view of the geopolitical importance of the area, rich in oil resources, significant by its location among three continents and a center of interest for all major powers and the three major religions. It has already had great international consequences. It has facilitated Soviet penetration into the Middle East and into the Mediterranean. It has made the Middle East a place of unremitting tension and turbulence, and as the years go by without a settlement, the explosive character of the situation is increasing. This danger gives the Arab-Israeli conflict a much wider international significance than it would normally have, and makes any program for its solution important to the whole world. I believe that neither the United States nor the U.S.S.R., the decisive international powers for the Middle East problems, desire a war and both wish to avoid a confrontation because of the Arab-Israeli conflict; their attitude in the Six Day War proved it. Both are interested therefore in reaching a solution as soon as possible, especially if there is a chance for some general and global agreement between them, which would he impossible without a Middle East settlement. I am not sure that the United States is delighted with its primary responsibility for Israel's survival, nor that Russia is happy with its burden of protecting and rearming the Arabs without any certainty as to the usefulness and effectiveness of their rearmament. The U.S.S.R. has gained, because of the Arab-Israeli conflict, what Russia had tried to obtain for centuries without success, namely a firm position in the Middle East; and nothing in my view justifies the belief that it is interested in a permanent state of war in this area in order to maintain its position. I have been told by communist statesmen close to the Soviet Union that the Soviet position in the Middle East is so strong and deeply rooted- economically, financially and militarily-that it is genuinely interested now in stability and peace, especially in view of the much more important and difficult problems which it has to face in some of the nearer communist countries. I have reason to hope that the Soviet Union would be ready, in case of a satisfactory agreement, to guarantee the stability and territorial integrity of the countries of the Middle East, together with the United States or with the Big Powers or within the framework of the United Nations.
As for the Arabs, once they know that the Big Powers guarantee the stability of the Middle East and may agree to a limitation of arms deliveries to the area, the hope of the extremists among them of destroying Israel with the help of the U.S.S.R. would fade away. Furthermore, as I said, an appeal to them to be generous and magnanimous and accept the fait accompli of the existence of the tiny Jewish state and even be among its guarantors, could have a tremendous psychological impact on the Arabs who are a very emotional people, given to extremes, able to be cruel and brutal on the one hand, noble and large on the other. It is worthwhile to note here that in Jewish history, with its many encounters with countless peoples, states and civilizations, the Arab-Jewish rencontre was much more human and fair than the instances of Jewish-Christian relations. The great Arab-Jewish civilization in Spain, and the freedom of life and creativeness of Jewish communities in many Moslem countries in the past, may encourage the hope of a positive Arab reaction to this solution of the problem.
Israel would, I am sure, as a neutralized country quickly become a major international cultural center, especially in view of the special character of Jerusalem, to which all religions and peoples of the world would naturally have free access. I could see many international organizations, religious, cultural and social, being established in the city of Jerusalem which, as the capital of a neutralized state, could be a holy place and center for Christian and Moslem religious institutions. Israel would above all become the natural center of the creativeness of the Jewish people as a whole. It would attract many of the most gifted and idealistic elements of the Jewish community in the world. It would become the great new source of Jewish inspiration and challenges, and in the deepest sense of the word the spiritual center of the Jewish people.
One last observation. Zionism is a singular movement-the return of a people to its ancient homeland after two thousand years-the result of the unique history of a unique people. Seen from a large historical point of view, which alone justifies, explains and validates the Zionist idea, I am convinced that the Jewish state, in order to survive, must represent the singularity of this people and its destiny. I cannot imagine that the thousands of years of Jewish suffering, persecution, resistance and heroism should end with a small state like dozens of others today, living continuously in peril of its annihiliation, bound to remain mobilized and armed to the teeth, and concentrating its major efforts on physical survival. Nor am I sure that the enthusiasm and loyalty of the Jewish people in the world will forever be secure for such a state. What I suggest here is something exceptional, and therefore the fitting outcome of the exceptional Jewish history.
It may appear to hard-boiled politicians today as a quixotic vision. It is certainly no more quixotic by far than Herzl's Judenstaat seemed to the peoples of the world and to most of the Jews when it was published some 75 years ago. The history of the Zionist movement, as of many others, proves that the greatest real factors in history in the long run are neither armies nor physical, economic or political strength, but visions, ideas and dreams. These are the only things which give dignity and meaning to the history of mankind, so full of brutality, senselessness and crime. Jewish history certainly proves it: we survived not because of our strength- physical, economic or political-but because of our spirit. And therefore, seen from a historical point of view, this different concept of the character of a Jewish state as the solution of the Jewish problem may become not less realistic than the original Zionist idea proved to be and could, I am inclined to think, be implemented in a much shorter period than it took for the Judenstaat to be carried into effect in the state of Israel.