Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Do Regional Shopping Centers Have To Do With The Case For A Larger Israel?


In his new book, Threshold Resistance, American shopping mall pioneer A. Alfred Taubman, describes the difficulty he had over 50 years ago convincing retailers such as Macy’s that his new concept—regional malls—would work.

Imagine the difficulty he faced trying to convince smaller retailers that are found inside the mall to give up their street store fronts altogether? The fact that malls work for stores and customers may seem obvious today, but this was not the case back then. In fact, it was counterintuitive at the time. Mr. Taubman and a few other retail pioneers had the foresight that changed humanity’s shopping experience around the world.

But it wasn’t easy. Mr. Taubman had to overcome what he called threshold resistance with retailers, bankers and civic leaders.

Getting people over a threshold so that they will even listen to a new idea is extremely hard when the old way of doing things, or thinking about things, is so entrenched.

Like Mr. Taubman’s successful efforts in the shopping center arena, the case for a larger Israel must overcome tremendous threshold resistance—threshold resistance that simply causes most people to dismiss the idea before it is presented.

Here are a few threshold resistance points I’ve heard from many who actually support the Jewish State:

1. The Arab States will never agree to a larger Israel, so it’s a waste of time to discuss it.
2. The international community will never agree to a larger Israel, so be practical.
3. It isn’t feasible (or fair) because of the Palestinians who live there.
4. If Singapore can succeed in a small space, so can Israel.
5. It’s a land grab: the same as Nazi Germany.

The above is STRONG threshold resistance to the case I make for a larger Israel.

But imagine the threshold resistance all democratic reform leaders throughout the Soviet Union heard before the Soviet Empire crumbled.

Imagine the threshold resistance Mahatma Gandhi heard when he said the British would one day leave India.

Imagine the threshold resistance Chaim Weizmann or Theodor Herzl heard in their pursuit for world recognition of any Jewish entity at all.

Well I’m sure they heard plenty, and they proceeded to overcome threshold resistance anyway.

As Mr. Taubman writes in his book, the most difficult challenges can be overcome if they are understood and confronted forcefully.

Many of yesterday’s casually dismissed ideas are today’s conventional wisdom. Remember when anyone advocating that Israel talks to the PLO was vilified? Pendulums swing.

Before dismissing my ideas for reframing the Middle East debate as errant or unrealistic, know that merely giving them a fair public hearing will strengthen Israel when the day comes to negotiate a durable peace with the Arab and Muslim world.

I believe a larger, viable Israel will in the long run benefit Israel and Jews, Arabs and Muslims, and all of humanity as well.

Allow me the opportunity overcome your threshold resistance.

Please have a look at my book, The Case for a Larger Israel. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from your local bookstore. While I prefer that you buy a copy so that you can display it on your coffee table and more easily discuss it with your friends and neighbors, it is also available for free at www.alargerisrael.com.

--David Naggar

(Note: Some people have suggested that making the book available for free takes away the perceived value and harms the seriousness with which its ideas are taken. I bet Mr. Taubman would agree with this. I hope you don't.)

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