## Tuesday, August 23, 2005

### Disengagement is mistake

The Israeli-Arab conflict is a very sensitive issue. Let me start with the following points:
• I hold respect for all peaceful Arabs, their culture, and religion - and also the digits: 0123456789
• on the other hand, I am completely impressed by the Jewish culture and their contribution to our civilization
• the current Palestinian leaders are more or less worth our sympathy
• the co-existence of the Jews and the Palestinians is a difficult one, which is especially the case on the territory of the hypothetical future Palestinian state

• the Jews should be thanked for their sacrifice in the name of peace; in fact, a slight majority of the Jews supports the plan
• the disengagement plan for the Gaza strip is realized in a professional and smooth way, and even those $200,000-$300,000 seem as a large enough compensation

Fine. So what do I really want to say? When I look at the maps, it is impossible to forget about the analogy with our "second republic" - namely Czechoslovakia after Hitler equally peacefully took over Sudetenland in 1938, after the outrageous Munich treaty was signed by two bastards - Hitler and Mussolini - and two traitors - Daladier and Chamberlain. The country had simply become defenseless. Once we abandoned the idea to ask the allies (Stalin?) for help, it was painfully clear that there was no other choice than to accept Hitler's conditions in March 1939 and become the (occupied territory i.e. ) "The Protectorate Bohemia-Moravia" in which the Third Reich could have decided about everything. (Slovakia became a relatively independent satellite country of the Third Reich.)

I am afraid that the situation of the "smaller Israel" inside the huge Arab sea is similar. And I don't think it is quite reasonable to expect that all the Arab states are going to like the idea of the Jewish "spot" in the middle of "their" region for decades or indefinitely. Remember how difficult for the Jewish nation was the period of the Second World War. Nevertheless, six Arab countries found it tasteful enough to attack the emerging state of Israel in 1948 or so.

Why they don't do the same thing today? Is it really because they are so much more peaceful these days? Maybe - and one could mention some great leaders. But I would guess that a more important reason is that a sufficiently energetic White House administration - the potential new crusaders - is watching them. That does not have to be the case forever. Because the U.N. and Europe (and probably others as well) are virtually irrelevant for all these questions, I am afraid that once Israel escapes both from the Gaza strip as well as the West Bank, the fate of Israel will depend on the results of the elections in the U.S. Be sure that Dennis Kucinich won't defend Israel, for example.

Such a development would be very sad. Once again, I respect the Palestinians as human beings and as a nation - although they are still something like a part of the greater nation of Arabs (a nation that has apparently been given enough territory) and the somewhat confusing label "Palestinians" creates an illusion of a larger diversity than the actual one.

But my attitude towards the Jews is different. The Jews represent a very crucial and tested element of the whole modern "Western" democratic civilization; among other things, this nation is completely essential for modern science; there are numerous friends and colleagues of ours among the Jews. (Recall the wise joke that besides the world, there exists an anti-world where everything is anti-: for example, they investigate anti-physics and the research is mostly done by anti-Semites.)

If I were social-engineering a sustainable equilibrium in the Middle East, the territory of the Jewish state would probably be expanded, not shrunk, also because the relative importance of the Jews vs. Arabs in my eyes is closer to parity than the ratio of their territories. (Of course, I don't argue that such a thing could be realized peacefully.) I would love to be proved wrong but my prediction is that in a couple of decades, we - or perhaps the other generations - will view the disengagement plan as a mistake, together with our new democratic friends in the Arab world who will be remembering some bad days of their future history. Today, however, all of us should support the peace plan and hope for the best.

The nice houses have been demolished. It's always sad when houses are demolished - and a completely rationally oriented nation would find better ways to deal with these buildings - but it is much worse when the people are killed. I wish the Palestinians to be able to build equally nice or better houses in their new land, despite the skepticism of many bloggers.