Monday, December 01, 2008

The Two State Solution: A Given, Until The Day It Won’t Be.


A black man can’t be elected President of the United States. This was, after all, a “given.”

Unless Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 armistice line, Israel and her Arab neighbors won’t have peace. This is also is accepted as a given.

Let’s compare the two givens.

President-elect Obama could easily have talked himself out of running for the Presidency. Beside the color of his skin, powerful interests backing the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton blocked his road to the Presidency. A politically more seasoned African-American, Colin Powell, took a pass when the office was his to be won rather than rise to the challenge.

Rather than accept the wisdom of the conventional given, President-elect Obama fought and won. Israeli leadership, on the other hand, has talked itself out of fighting for a viable, self-sufficient Israel. They don’t fully stand up to the powerful interests allied against Israel. Israeli leaders ignore national necessity and aspiration. They accept as a given that powerful global interests will never allow Israel to control more territory than it did prior to 1967.

And so, Israeli leadership embraces the conventional given: the so-called two state solution.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, supports the two-state solution and is working hard in her final days to push this idea forward. Amazingly, Ms. Rice does so, in part, because she equates Palestinian hardship to the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Sadly, she does not see Israel’s struggle against 21 Arab states in the same light.

For all who think as Secretary Rice does, an analogy: Picture a black man living in a very small but nicely kept house in an otherwise white neighborhood filled with dilapidated mansions built on huge estates. Now, envision that the white people hate the black man, and blame the fact their mansions are falling apart on the black man’s very presence. Now picture many of the white people in white hoods burning an image of the black man in effigy to drive the black man out of the neighborhood. One white man in particular, owns no home of his own. He lives in a run-down rental, next door to the black man’s nicely kept house.

Rather than helping this poor white man find an appropriate place to build a nice house on empty land within one of the vast white owned estates, Secretary Rice has concluded that this particular white man—a white man who hates the black man with great passion—can be mollified by building him a tiny house right next door to the black man’s tiny house. To Secretary Rice, the black man, even though surrounded by angry white folks has made it! Not only that, but Secretary Rice wants us to believe that once the poor white man has a tiny house, all the white people will stop hating the black man.

Oh my God!!! Thankfully, she will soon be leaving the stage.

Unfortunately, the two-state solution is the “given” of powerful interests around the world. But the two-state solution, one that harms Israel and Palestinian Arabs alike, is only today’s given. It will be tomorrow’s given only if the people of the world accept it as such. In politics, the only given that is definitive is the one no one stands up to change.

The call for a larger Israel—a state that is properly sized to be durable, successful, and self-sustaining in good and bad economic times—is considered a non-starter in the halls of power. But making it a reality is no more of a fantasy than a black man’s successful quest for the Presidency of the United States.

On January 20th, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. He fought and changed the given that precluded him from the White House.

The given of a two-state solution must be fought and changed as well. In the long-term, it is destructive to the well being of Israel, Palestinian Arabs, and to regional peace. When the powerful interests no longer abide by this given, but rather look to alternative remedies such as those found in my book, Israel will no longer be impeded from becoming a truly self-sustaining state—one that contributes mightily to the greater good of humanity. Palestinian Arabs will no longer be impeded from living better and more prosperous lives. And the vast majority of Muslims and Arabs, people who care more about their children than hating Israel, will no longer be impeded from making real peace with Israel.

I, for one, am hopeful that in January, the incoming President of the United States will studiously revisit the “given” of a two-state solution. It is my hope that in February, new leadership in Israel will help him do so. Like the impossible election of Mr. Obama, the tragedy of pursuing a two-state solution is only a given, until the day it won’t be.

--David Naggar

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Winning Strategy for Israel’s Next Prime Minister—Begin by Going on Offense!


Only time will tell if Tzipi Livni’s failure to form a government ultimately works to her advantage.

Ron Ben-Yishai, a reporter injured on more than one occasion while covering Israel’s wars, correctly framed the big problem facing the next Prime Minister.

He said, “What we lack today is a winning strategy. Such strategy would enable us to successfully cope with the “slow destruction” strategy used by Iran, Syria, and radical Islamic elements to undermine Israel’s staying power and ultimately wipe it off the map.”

He’s right. What Israel lacks is a winning strategy.

Ms. Livni’s strategic aim of confining Israel to, more or less, the 1949 armistice lines that held until 1967, is the wrong strategy. Therefore, it is in Israel’s interest that she not be Prime Minister.

She, like Prime Minister Olmert, does not have a winning strategy to bring long-lasting peace to Israel. A winning strategy would ensure that Israel would be a strong, self-reliant, and independently viable state well into the future. Her strategic success might bring a lull in fighting, but would leave Israel weak, and in danger of failing as a state at some point down the line.

So, what would a winning strategy entail? First, going on offense.

Defense may win football games, but offense wins political games.
In politics, when you are on defense, you are losing the game.

President Clinton was first elected to the presidency because James Carville, Clinton’s campaign strategist, played offense and kept George Bush’s team on defense the entire campaign. Bush lost on defense. Clinton won on offense.

In the arena of international politics, Israel predominantly plays defense. It never challenges the status quo that Israel must give up land for peace. It barely challenges corrupt Arab regimes. It never tries to reach Arab people who for the most part hate their own regimes because of the known corruption. It never challenges Islam, yes Islam, to be its best self and fairly share the land of the Middle-East with the Jews of Israel. It never challenges Jordan’s monarchy to honor the agreement of the current King’s great uncle (an agreement made with Jewish leaders about 90 years ago that, in part, called for the reestablishment of a “moderate and proper” sized Jewish state that is larger than Israel is today).

Rather, Israel plays defense. It answers all charges. It sweats, for instance, whether or not to let “Free Gaza” protesters sail into Gaza. It gets mired in nuance. It too seldom goes on offense.

Today, Israel is too small for the good if its own people. It is too small for the good of humanity. And there are better ways to solve the Palestinian Arab humanitarian issues than to create a 22nd Arab State that is bound to be disaster for its residents and the region.

It is time to confront current Israeli leadership’s insistence on playing defense. It is a losing game, and Israel is losing.

One need not be bombastic to go on offense. When Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Empire an evil Empire, he was on offense. The international press at first was shocked, but most people, especially in the Soviet Union, knew it was the truth. When he asked Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, Reagan was on offense. When he pursued “Star Wars,” he was on offense. No bullet was ever fired, no war ever came, and no soldier ever died. But the debate, even within the Soviet Union, changed. The cold war ended.

Like the Soviet Union, Israel’s enemies have a lot of explaining to do (just read my book). But they will never be properly questioned or scrutinized in the court of world public opinion unless and until Israel has a Prime Minister who is willing to go on offense.

He or she should start by proclaiming that it is unjust for Israel, the sole Jewish majority state, to be confined to tiny borders when there is so much empty land in the Arab and Muslim world in need of owners, citizens and workers, and so much oil wealth available to help them prosper.

--David Naggar

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

These Are Normal Days, Ms. Livni.


After being named Prime Minister-designate, Tzipi Livni told reporters: "These are not normal days for Israel. There are great diplomatic and economic challenges facing it." (Emphasis added).

But the reality is: these are precisely normal days for Israel. There are always great diplomatic and economic threats. The question is: what does tiny Israel do to change the normal days into better days?

The cost of normal days for the past sixty years—threats of war and economic boycotts—has been the cementation of a society that is too often on edge, anxious and temperamental. Normal days means that Israel has been unable to become an outwardly loving, warm and gentle society of high justice and morality that serves as a light to other nations.

The continued bellicose threats from enemies dedicated to Israel’s destruction have caused great internal strife. Sometimes the internal strive even exists within one person. Prime Minister Olmert now claims that he was wrong for thirty-five years, and that the only way to peace is through the same type of concessions that did not work in Lebanon, have not worked in Gaza, and have been rejected by Arab counterparts for 60 years.

Israel is now militarily and financially dependent on the United States. This is because Israel is not the necessary size to thrive peacefully and live as a full partner with other nations. Its diminutive size prevents it from maximally contributing towards the betterment of humanity.

These are normal days, Ms. Livni. But normal days must end.

The Times (of London) had it right nearly 90 years ago. The Jordan River “will not do as Palestine’s (the future Jewish state–ed.) eastern boundary. Our duty as Mandatory,” the Times proclaimed in reference to the British who were chosen by the world to act as mandatory, “is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling state but one that is capable of a vigorous and independent national life.”

But sympathy for the plight of Jews has waned on the world stage, and times have put enormous pressure on Israel.

Under the current political course, Israel is a struggling state. Under the current political course, Israel’s national life is far from independent. Under the current political course, diplomatic and economic challenges will continue indefinitely until Israel collapses.

Of course, Israel might survive as a failed nuclear state for some time, but Israel’s days of contribution will diminish as the enlightened and able abandon the dream, abandon the vision, and finally abandon an uncivil society. Just like the disappearing non-Muslim communities throughout the former Ottoman Empire, the Jews of Israel will be worn down to a point of capitulation.

As Yasser Arafat said after signing the Oslo Accords, “We will make life unbearable for the Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion; Jews won’t want to live among us Arabs.”

It may be shocking, but like Lehman Brothers, Israel is not too big for the world to let fail.

The assumptions of the country’s leaders—that the road to peace and prosperity runs through the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza—must change, or the country must change its leaders. There is plenty of real estate throughout the Middle-East for everyone to peacefully co-exist.

A peace deal between Israel and her Arab neighbors that only temporarily replaces normal days with better days is no peace deal at all.

True peace will address the humanitarian needs of Palestinian Arabs within the context of 21 independent countries that presently control 99.8% of the greater Middle-East. And true peace will allow Israel to flourish, be truly independent of all other countries, and lead to perpetual better days so that Israel and Israelis can live in a just, moral and civil society that contributes mightily to the good of all humanity—truly a light to others nations.

-- David Naggar

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kosovo, Georgia, Power Politics and Israel


The world is purposefully divided into nation-states. The powerful countries of the world long ago figured out that trade works better than colonialism.

The idea behind the nation-state system is that each State takes care of business within its own boundaries and doesn’t interfere with whatever goes on in the territory of all other states. Of course, this doesn’t always happen. There are international laws to consider, IGOs (such as the World Bank), NGOs, foreign economic pressures, and so on.

But the territorial status quo is protected as best it can in the halls of power. All ethnic-territorial disputes are attempted to be resolved within the boundaries of each State, with no spill over. Hence, the lunacy of trying to impose a two-state solution within the borders of Israel and the territories, rather than involving the territory of Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan or Saudi Arabia in solving this geographical puzzle.

But this year, there has been a major crack in the idea of the territorial integrity of smaller states.

The first crack was the U.S. approved Kosovo declaration of independence. In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed claims that Kosovo was a "special case" as the United States maintains.

Putin argued that Kosovo was in the same category as the separatist conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester.

He said Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia, has "a ready-made plan and we know what we are going to do".

Well, in the past two weeks we learned what Putin and the Russians decided to do. They couldn’t military prevent the United States from changing the “world order” balance of power in Kosovo. So the Russians changed the “world order” balance of power in Georgia.

Officials in Israel decided that it was in Israel’s interest not to speak out about these border changes. They neither embraced nor denounced the new status quo in Kosovo or Georgia.

But the precarious situation in Kosovo and the Georgian break away provinces “complicates” matters for the Israeli advocates of the two-state solution. These advocates have always refuses to acknowledge the obvious—the land mass of Israel and the territories is too small to successfully house the sole Jewish State and another Arab state. These advocates have also refused to acknowledge that the solutions embraced by the international community in the first half of the 20th century—separating potentially antagonistic populations—though imperfect, is better than the alternative of clashing peoples.

Separation, though currently an out of favor solution, is worthy of public advocacy. Peacemakers and Noble Prize winners once championed it. In the first half of the 20th century, populations were separated in Greece and Turkey, and German ethnics were moved to Germany. But no one moved people in the area that was once Yugoslavia.

Where populations were separated, there has been peace. And where they weren’t separated, there has been trouble.

Now because Russia and the United States are both permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto power, that means that the UN will never recognize either Kosovo or the break away Georgian provinces. Kosovo and the breakaway provinces of Georgia will act as independently as they can, guarded by their respective protectors.

The U.S.-Russian crisis presents a global problem, as ethnic minorities worldwide take heart from the Kosovar and Georgian precedents.

The U.S. had hoped to put the Kosovo genie back in the “special case” bottle by pressuring Russia economically to get out of Georgia. But NATO allies won’t make a move against Russia because they are afraid of losing their oil supply from Russia, not to mention being afraid of Russia’s military power.

Serbian President Boris Tadic is, of course, livid about Kosovo’s declared independence. He said, "Imagine you were in my place— the president of a country, which has been deprived of a territory against its will. How would you feel and how would you respond? I'm asking this question of you because if you cast a blind eye to this illegal act, who guarantees to you that parts of your countries will not declare independence in the same way?"

How does this effect Israel?

The Kosovar and Georgian situations, set precedents for a similar declaration of independence by Palestinian Arabs should final-status negotiations drag on without tangible results.

Also, Israel's Arab minority might one day use such a precedent to secede from Israeli areas heavily populated by Arabs, such as the Western Galilee.

Further, should Arab countries that surround Israel decide that they are strong enough to attack Israel, even long after the implementation of a two-state solution, the pretext of protecting Israel’s ethnic minority Arabs would readily be available to the invaders.

Protecting ethnic minorities is the pretext Russians used in Georgia, and that’s the pretext Germany used to invade Poland in World War II.

In the meantime, the odd-on favorite to become the next Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, repeats that in a peace deal with the Palestinians, Israel would need to cede parts of the country.

Like all advocates of the two-state solution, she refuses to acknowledge that the geography of Israel and the territories combined is too small to successfully house the only Jewish State and another Arab state. And she does not understand that solution embraced by the international community in the first half of the 20th century—separating antagonistic populations—though imperfect, is ultimately more moral that than the immorality that will surely follow if Israel is permanently made too small to ever achieve self-sufficiency, and Palestinian Arabs are granted the creation of a 22nd, non-viable Arab State, rather than having their individual needs met in a humanitarian way.

There is plenty of room in the Middle-East for everyone who now lives in the Middle-East. Israel and the territories combined comprise only two-tenths of one percent of the region. It is not the only land available in which people can live.

Sadly, Foreign Minister Livni’s negotiating mindset is made clear by her words: "If we don't [cede territory], we will be forced to give up aspects of our ultimate goal: to establish Israel as a Jewish, democratic and secure state.”

This is flat out wrong. And for Israel, Livni's public statements are counter-productive. With cracks in the nation-state system, and events unfolding the way they are between the United States and Russia, Israel is playing its international diplomatic hand as if it has no cards to play. But Israel has cards. Until alternative fuels replace oil, the United States needs its only dependable ally in the Middle-East now more than ever. This allows Israel more room to maneuver, not less.

Israeli politicians should ask themselves, “after the two-state solution, then what?” The answer is, there will not be peace. There will still be a pretext for the next attack because of the millions of Arabs living in Israel and the new schism between Russia and the United States over the territorial integrity of each nation-state in the face of ethnic tension.

Properly incentivizing those Palestinian Arabs willing to relocate is the right thing to do, and should be publicly advocated. It is moral, especially if no one is forced to move against his or her free will.

Israel’s long-term survival and prosperity are more likely to be attained if Israel becomes a larger, self-sufficient, viable state, not a smaller resource-challenged state at the mercy of its neighbors, or Russian—American games of power politics.

--David Naggar

Friday, August 01, 2008

Mr. Prime Minister, Please Just Go Quietly


It is good news for Israel that Prime Minister Olmert has finally declared that he is leaving the stage. Though a quick collapse of the government is possible, the nature of Israeli politics being what it is, his time in office may unfortunately linger into next year. Most disturbing, for Israel, Palestinian Arabs and the rest of humanity is that he appears to want to sign a “peace deal” before he goes.

As I’ve said before, a peace deal that exchanges Israel’s long-term viability for unworkable borders and a peace of paper—even if the paper is guaranteed by the United States—is a peace whose price is too high.

First, no such paper guarantee is reliable. Consider retired Israeli Major General Yaakov Amidror’s account of a private conversation with Henry Kissinger: When asked for American guarantees in exchange for Israeli territorial concessions, Kissinger explained that South Vietnam had international guarantees from twenty countries. Kissinger went on to say that when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam, no country took his telephone calls. The implication of the conversation was clear to General Amidror. Do not risk withdrawing to the 1967 borders on the basis of American guarantees.

But more importantly, as a state that currently fails to meet RAND Corporation criteria for successful independent existence, Israel’s return to the pre 1967 borders would increase the chances of its ultimate demise. This, of course, is exactly what Israel’s many enemies—who dwell within countries that already comprise 99.8% of the regional territory—expect over time.

But Israel’s demise would not make the lives of Palestinian Arabs better in the long run. Israel’s demise will not lead to regional peace. And Israel’s demise would not advance the interests of humanity around the globe, humanity that benefits from the scientific and medical advancements that occur in Israel.

Undoubtedly, a frenzied last minute push by the Bush Administration for “peace,” (i.e., a return to, more or less, what Abba Eban called the Auschwitz borders) will include many guarantees that will come with an unacceptable price: an Israeli commitment to be, at the very least, forever crippled. Deplorably, it appears that the Prime Minister is intent on figuring out how to pay this price.

For the sake of Israel, better lives for Palestinian Arabs, long-term regional peace, and humanity, Mr. Prime Minister, please just go quietly.

Please read The Case for a Larger Israel for details regarding the military, economic and social perils Israel faces within the inadequate geographical territory of the pre 1967 borders. Please read it to see that there are other options for Palestinian people other than to be herded like cattle into a mini-state that is sure to fail and cause misery.

--David Naggar

Friday, July 18, 2008

Trading Prisoners—An Addendum


The prisoner swap is now complete. A convicted murderer, among others, has been released in exchange for bodies and closure. The Prime Minister and other Israeli leaders argue that it was necessary to pay this heavy price because Israeli cohesiveness demands that no soldier be left behind.

When the emotional satisfaction of taking the purported moral high grounds fades away, the strategic price Israel paid and will continue to pay will become sadly apparent.

If it was moral and necessary under these particular circumstances to release an unrepentant murderer—one who still plans to pursue the destruction of Israel—hasn’t Israeli leadership just incentivized Israel’s enemies to create the same “necessary and moral conditions” next time?

My heart goes out to Smadar Haran, the families of the police officers murdered, and the Regev and Wasserman families. My heart also goes out to the family of the next murder victims, and the next captured soldiers. Though you are nameless at the moment, your pain in the future has been made all the more certain this past week.

Bad long-term policy is often made when leadership sacrifices the common good for heart-wrenching immediate aims.

A vulnerable and weak-acting Israel will never be able to make true peace with its neighbors—only a truly independent, strong, and viable Israel can.

--David Naggar

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mr. Prime Minister Olmert, Accommodating the Short-Term Goals of Israel’s Enemies, including “Trading Prisoners,” Is Counter-Productive


A new WorldPublicOpinion poll of people in 18 countries reveals that a majority of those people blame both sides in what is referred to as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they don’t want their governments to take sides. This should come as no surprise.

When I was an active lawyer, judges never wanted to hear both sides of the story in a dispute between the lawyers. They were busy and simply assumed that somehow both lawyers were to blame. This allowed for one side, usually the side with deeper pockets, to abuse the other.

And so it was, and so it is.

The rest of the world is too busy to really care what happens in Israel and its environs, as long it doesn’t affect them. They don’t pay close attention and are happy to cast blame on everyone.

In a thousand ways Israeli leadership bends to Arab demands to prove to the world that Israel is “the good guy” in the dispute. Their reason? 1) The hope that one day its neighbors will let Israel exist in an area that is objectively too small for it to be truly self-reliant and independent or 2) That the world will notice Israel’s current good will and therefore not rush to condemn it when the next war breaks out.

With history and polls as a guide, Israel will get no long-term credit for bending to Arab demands. This fact seems lost on current Israeli leadership.

Today, by all accounts the Prime Minister of Israel is working hard to conclude a deal with Hezbollah in which, Samir Kuntar, a prisoner “with blood on his hands,”—that is, a murderer—and other prisoners are exchanged by Israel for information about a long dead Israeli airman and the bodies of two IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2006 and presumed dead.

This is folly.

By sheer brut strength Hezbollah has forced itself into the dominant position of Lebanese politics.

Did the people of world care enough to stop this? No.

Hezbollah will not be disarmed as was agreed to by the terms of UN Resolution 1701, a condition of the ending of the 2006 Lebanon War. (But then, every diplomat around the world, including Israeli diplomats knew Hezbollah wouldn’t be disarmed, and today, Israeli warnings that Hezbollah is rearming and building new military infrastructure in the areas north and south of the Litani River are ignored).

Did the people of world care enough to do anything about it? No.

Yet because of international pressure, Israel felt forced to abandon its goal of eliminating Hezbollah as a serious existential threat to Israel.

Would the people of the world have done anything meaningfully harmful to Israel had it finished the job? No.

Israel should have taken the heat and finished the job. The international anger would have ended when the people of the world moved to the next topic.

Presently, Israel will get little additional long-term credit and little additional long-term debit for doing either what is perceived to be right or wrong.

And that is why Prime Minister Olmert’s bending to negotiate with Hezbollah over prisoners is shortsighted.

It just serves as “proof” that both sides must somehow be to blame for their conflict.

And it gives Hezbollah added legitimacy in international circles. If Israel can negotiate with Hezbollah, every country is more free to do so. Hezbollah’s place, as the inevitable heirs to governing Lebanon, becomes more certain.

Hezbollah could teach current Israeli leadership plenty about how to negotiate.

Years ago when Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon the UN concluded that Israel no longer occupied any Lebanese territory. But Hezbollah simply refused to accept the UN’s conclusion, and continued to use a canard of continued Israel presence on Lebanese territory as a pretext to keep fighting Israel. Now under Hezbollah pressure the UN will reconsider which country, Syria or Lebanon “owns” this “disputed” area called Shebaa Farms.

By being a disrupting pain, the world rushes to appease if appeasement is even remotely possible. Why? Because the people of the world wish to avoid trouble from spreading to them. It’s that simple.

For Israel, negotiating over prisoners with Hezbollah (and Hamas) leads to two short-term things. The first is that Israel might, for a price, win the release of a kidnap victim (or information or remains). The second is that it invites the next kidnapping to occur. How foolish.

In the eyes of the world, current Israeli negotiating strategy treats enemies who demand Israel’s destruction as good-faith equals.

But Israel’s leaders will at most receive from its neighbors more pieces of paper that, for the time being, allow it to live in an area that is objectively too small for it to be truly self-reliant and independent.

Current Israeli leadership does not recognize that the current international handwriting on the wall—a smaller Israel—is not forever true. It is nothing more than today’s graffiti.

In the long-term, if Israel is to thrive, Israel must to be large enough to be self-sufficient and a more important partner in the world community. This goal of self-sufficiency must be perceived by the world to be non-negotiable. Israel must repeat and repeat that it will not become a modern day pre-world war II era Czechoslovakia.

Since the majority of the people of the world will not care how the Israeli-Palestinian/Hamas/Hezbollah/Arab/Muslim problem is solved, it might as well be solved in a way the benefits Israel, Palestinian people, and humanity.

But until the problem is solved, like all semi-distracted judges, the world will find plenty of blame to go around for Israel, Palestinians, the rest of the local Muslim Arabs and, of course, the United States.

For Prime Minister Olmert and Israel, a renewed first negotiating step that must be taken to move the negotiation of a permanent solution forward on favorable terms (a larger, self-sufficient, independently viable Israel) is this: Stop accommodating the short-term goals of Israel’s enemies.

--David Naggar

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mr. Prime Minister, There You Go Again


As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continues his effort to extract himself from his personal problems, he does what he can to turn Israel’s attention towards “peace negotiations.” As part of his campaign, he now states that only delusional people think Israel can keep post-'67 borders.

He does Israel no favor by conceding the size of Israel. This Prime Minister’s effort to ingratiate himself to the international community is exacerbating Israel’s larger existential problems.

World leaders are indifferent to the manner of solution of the Arab/Muslim-Israeli problem. They just want the problem off the international table.

Just as it would be fine with world leaders if Arabs conceded the establishment of a twenty-second Arab State, if Israel’s Prime Minister concedes Israel’s future, that’s fine too. Any resolution will do.

Besides being a weak negotiating tactic, consider how the Prime Minister arrives at his conclusion that Israel must shrink in size, and that only delusional people could question this inevitability.

Olmert’s current way of thinking—it was not always so—made its way onto the scene sometime in the last 20 years. It derives from this truism: Israel cannot survive as a Jewish state if it has too many non-Jewish Arab citizens.

But there is more that underlies the Prime Minister’s thinking than this.

He goes beyond the truism and into the realm of shortsighted speculation when he assumes that no Arab will ever move from Israel or the territories. It is on the basis of this assumption that he concludes that in order to keep its Jewishness, Israel has no choice but to be smaller.

Mr. Prime Minister, there are options to resolving the Arab/Muslim-Israeli problem other than making Israel smaller. Polls show that many Palestinian Arabs would be eager to move from Israel and the territories under the right circumstances. Consider:

What if a person’s move is voluntary? What if there are internationally sanctioned incentives to help make the decision the right one for one’s family and future? What if the surrounding Arab dictatorial regimes were pressured by the international community to be more accommodating of Israel and Palestinian Arabs? What if a properly sized Israel and Palestinian State were both stamped onto the map?

What if no one who didn’t want to move was forced to move? What if Arabs living in Israel could decide if they wanted to accept that they lived in a Jewish State--and those Arabs who decided not to accept that they lived in a Jewish State still stayed, but were granted citizenship of one of the twenty one neighboring Arab States that comprise 99.8% of the area surrounding Israel?

Yes, there are many options for the international community to consider other than the establishment of a non-viable mini Palestinian State and the forcing of Israel to be undersized. But no credible world leader will propose any such solution if the sitting Prime Minister of Israel publicly advocates the shrinking of Israel.

The Prime Minister ignores the ebb and flow of history when he concedes that Israel must withdraw to, more or less, what Abba Eban called the Auschwitz borders.

Just consider this 1988 statement from the “left of center” Democratic nominee for President of the United States, Michael Dukakis. “Israel needs room to breathe, and a return to the 1967 borders is out of the question.”

How far we have come is such a short time.

The failure of Jewish and Israeli media relations over the course of the last twenty years boggles the mind. It has taken only twenty years for “the right” to move more to the left than the left was back then. And “the left” is now off the chart in its anti-Israel view.

The world now sees the problem as one of Israeli oppression of stateless Palestinians rather than one of Arab/Muslim denial of Israeli Jews' moral right to have ample territory to thrive and contribute to humanity’s goodwill. The world does not view the problem as an existential struggle of tiny Israel to survive in the midst of hostile Arab/Muslim neighbors.

The San Francisco Chronicle—home of America’s left—is typical in its contempt for Israel. It runs pictures of frightened Palestinian women and children alongside articles that report on “Israeli military attacks”. Israel’s purpose of targeting those responsible for rocket attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza is intentionally obfuscated.

And consider an unrelated headline from the Chronicle from March 2008. “Democracy’s First Day In Tiny Bhutan.” Lost on the Chronicle staff, I am sure, is that TINY Bhutan is 67% larger than Israel and the territories combined.

Don’t expect the Chronicle to be reporting on TINY Israel soon. Don’t expect the Chronicle to start its coverage with a dose of history or even a map of Israel’s hostile, non-democratic and NON-TINY neighbors.

And don’t expect anyone outside of Israel to challenge the wisdom of Prime Minister Olmert’s view. Olmert’s view, because he is the Prime Minister of Israel, is the ceiling of acceptable aspiration for Israel. If the sitting Prime Minister says a counterview is delusional, those offering such a view will be seen as delusional.

As with most people who agree with the Prime Minister’s vision of a two-state solution within the confines of Israel and the territories, the following question is derided and dismissed without answer: What if Israel can’t survive in the long run as anything other than a failed nuclear State in its pre (plus or minus) '67 borders?

It is from the false certainty that a larger Israel is unnecessary for the welfare of its citizens that the Prime Minister hurls the “delusional” barb at those who do not share his worldview.

This Prime Minister is shortsighted and plain wrong. It is not delusional to think that it is fair, just and beneficial to humanity that Israel’s final borders are larger. It is not delusional to think a larger Israel is necessary for the welfare of its citizens. There is plenty of room in the under-populated Middle-East for everyone.

It is however delusional, even if well intended, for Prime Minister Olmert to think that voluntarily shrinking Israel will lead to a golden age of true Israeli independence, peace and prosperity. Making Israel smaller and creating a non-viable Palestinian State will not benefit Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, the interests of peace, and/or humanity at large.

Until the day that the planet is no longer divided into nation-states, Israel must be large enough to thrive and be self-sustaining in global good times and bad; that is, in times of free trade and national retrenchment.

Palestinian issues must be addressed in a way that offers Palestinians better lives, rather than the creation of new arbitrary Arab State lines that flow from the ash heap of France and Great Britain’s 20th century imperialistic adventures.

I, myself, will continue to champion a long-term viable Israel. I have no illusions that this will come tomorrow. My hope for tomorrow is only that it will bring a new Prime Minister—one who has a deeper appreciation of the need for improved media relations, a better understanding of negotiation on the world stage, and a longer-term vision of Israel's place among the nations.

--David Naggar

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Another Reason for Israel to be Larger—The Global Rice Shortage


As Israel prepares to celebrate its 60th birthday, the drumbeat of war grows louder from Iranian backed Hamas and Hezbollah. This is a clear and present danger to Israel.

It is indisputable that militarily, a larger Israel would have an easier time defending itself. Yet many argue that when there is peace, Israel’s size—i.e., back to its approximate pre-1967 borders—won’t matter.

But size does matter. There are many reasons other than military ones that require Israel to be larger. One such reason is adequate territory for growing the food necessary to feed its people.

Today’s headlines are splashed with news of a global rice shortage. Rice is even being rationed at the big box stores in the United States.

The U.S. housing crisis has given rise to a global credit crunch and forced institutional deleveraging. Oil prices have soared. Prices of potash and other products necessary in food production are going through the roof. And food prices are rising rapidly.

There are protests and riots around the world stemming from a lack of food availability and high prices. Poorer countries in Asia and Africa are erecting new export barriers because of the food crisis.

India’s finance minister P. Chidambaram was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying “There is no place in the world that grows the food we need if we’re forced to import.” Therefore we have to be nearly self-sufficient.”

What about Israel?

If a country the size of India demands itself to be self-sufficient, Israel too must demand itself be self-sufficient.

There is a rise in Nationalism. Countries are reasserting control over their people and their borders. Globalization has created a great deal of new wealth but the wealth is unevenly distributed so its wisdom is being challenged more forcefully in many corners of the world. Israel has been a beneficiary of globalization, and even a modest return of national fervor will take a toll on Israel.

Israel, the sole Jewish majority state in the world, must be self-sufficient in good global economic times and in bad. Bad economic times may isolate Israel.

Israel must not only be self-sufficient in its ability to defend itself and supply its own energy needs, it must also be self-sufficient in its ability to feed its growing population. Israel is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

In a region that has more than enough land for all its inhabitants, Israel is deprived of sufficient land to take care of itself. It sits on much less than one percent of the land in its vastly under-inhabited region.

Global rice shortages and national export barriers? What about bread? Israel today imports 85% of its milling wheat.

What would happen to Israel if it were cut off?

When the world spirals out of control, as it may be doing now, and as history shows it will from time to time, being a good global trading partner is not enough.

An undersized Israel is at risk of withering one day. It would then survive, if it survives, merely as a failed nuclear state. This is not a proper future for Israel. Israel must be encouraged to thrive, not only for its citizens, but also for all the good that Israeli agriscience brings to the world.

For example, water-saving drip irrigation used throughout the world was perfected in Israel. When the future needs of the yet unborn around the globe become even greater, a thriving Israel will be in much better shape to stand with other countries in the creation of new methods and techniques to feed the hungry.

Israel must insist that it live on territory large enough to be self-sufficient in all respects. The international community should encourage peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors such that Israel winds up larger, and Palestinian Arabs are put on a path to better lives rather than being condemned to live in a failed mini-state.

In a world that will face increasing difficult agricultural issues, a larger Israel will be a strong global partner in the effort to ensure that our children, and our children’s children have enough water to drink, and bread and rice to eat. A larger, thriving, self-sufficient Israel is in humanity’s interest.

--David Naggar

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thank You King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia


This past week saw the most astonishing piece of news. It deserves significantly more coverage by the media than it has received.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has offered to hold an interfaith conference with Christians and Jews.

People are suspicious of his motivation. I am not. I welcome the news.

I concede that, in part, he may be motivated by a realization that a particular view of Islam that he does not personally share, is gaining traction in parts of Saudi Arabia. Many of his oil resources are in a traditionally Shi’a part of his Kingdom, but his royal line is Sunni.

Maybe he senses the growing ability of Al Qaida to regroup, and he fears a withering US resolve to fight it.

Maybe he is concerned that thirty years from now his oil resources will be depleted or irrelevant to the world economy, and he understands the need to modernize and integrate his country in the post-oil global economy.

But maybe he truly appreciates verse 5:48 of the Quran that does not talk of conquering other religions but in essence states that Muslims are to compete in righteousness with Christians and Jews.

“Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with God’s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had God willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To God is your final destiny--all of you--then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.”

No matter the motive, the King’s openness to religious dialogue is the light that can redirect the Middle-East away from the abyss.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, mistakenly believed that Israel should keep religion out of the discourse between Israel and her neighbors.

But here we are. The issue always was and still is whether a Jewish State can peacefully and prosperously exist within a Middle-East that is dominated by Muslims.

I say it can, but only after religious dialogue and rapprochement.

It is time to speak frankly and honestly about religion.

It is time to spread the word within Islam that Jews are not evil, that Jews do not drink Muslim blood, and that Jews do not want to kill or displace all Arabs from the Nile to the Euphrates.

It is time to speak frankly about what is, and is not Islamic holy land, Jewish holy land and Christian holy land.

It is time to speak about what is and is not freedom, what are human rights, and what is demeaning about subrogation rules such as dhimmi.

It is time to confirm that Israel is not a Christian outpost and not the continuation of the Crusades.

It is time to present evidence and discuss whether or not the site of the Jewish Temple is where the Jews say it is, and whether or not Muhammad’s night journey occurred on this same property. There is no point fighting over land if one of the parties concludes it may be mistaken about location after all.

There is much to discuss in the interfaith dialogue. A great deal of good can come from it because there will be no peace in this land without religious harmony.

Each religion must do more than tolerate the others. Each would be well served to embrace the vision of verse 5:48 of the Quran regarding God’s choice in purposefully making separate congregations to compete in righteousness.

With this in mind, it is time for Israel to ask the entire Muslim world to live side by side with the single Jewish State. It is time for Israel to humbly ask its neighbors for a sufficient plot of land to properly compete in righteousness. To properly compete, Israel must be large enough to be independently viable and successful on its own.

It is time for a larger Israel—one that will still be less than 1% of the land on which Muslims live, but one that will live peacefully with its larger neighbors and righteously contribute to the benefit of all humankind.

King Abdullah, I sincerely thank you for offering to hold an interfaith conference. It’s high time one occurs.

--David Naggar

Monday, March 03, 2008

Israel Is Not Disproportionately Aggressive, It is Disproportionately Good


Here we go again.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he described as Israel's "excessive and disproportionate" use of force in the Gaza Strip.

"While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed an injured so many civilians, including children," Ban told the emergency session of the council. "I call on Israel to cease such attacks," he said.

Well, nothing new here.

As usual, Israel is being accused of applying a “disproportionate use of force” against people who publicly call for its annihilation.

What does Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon think Israel is supposed to do to properly defend its citizens?

This is not a question that the Secretary-General concerns himself with. The truth is, the Secretary-General expects Israel to manage and cope with the problem, not end it.

The UN continues to be a disproportionate disappointment.

When the U.S. was attacked by Al-Qaeda living in Afghanistan on 9/11, the world joined as the U.S. used overwhelming force to mitigate the possibility that another attack would occur. There was no international outcry against a disproportionate use of force. This is what the government of a Nation-State is supposed to do—defend its citizens.

But Israel is different, in part, because its enemies are rich and powerful and have oil, the current engine of the world’s energy. In poker parlance, Israel has a weak international hand. It is only allowed to do so much before outside pressure comes to bear. This is unfortunate for the idea of stomping out terror around the world, not just for Israel.

It is an indisputable truth that not all people solve differences through negotiation and compromise. Hamas, the duly elected leaders of the Palestinians, intend to win their struggle with Israel. Winning, to Hamas, means the destruction of Israel. And so they go about their attempt to win through violence.

In some circles it is not well understood that sometimes there is simply no alternative but to deal with violent people violently. What could be a disproportionate use of force when faced against such a foe? There is no middle ground. There is no room for negotiation. Such an enemy must be destroyed before it destroys.

A more reasonable question is this: Why don’t more people in the international community consider it a “disproportionate use of force” when Hamas indiscriminately launches rockets into Israeli civilian population centers?

For those who assume both sides are equally wrong, know this: Israeli leadership mourns the loss of Palestinian civilians. Palestinian leadership intentionally targets Israeli civilians.

The Palestinian leadership could lessen the chance of its civilian casualties by choosing to locate its war machine away from civilian areas. But apparently, it would rather use the death of its own citizens for political gain than to do so. This is decidedly not the case in Israel.

And neither is there a “cycle of violence,” in this fight. For such a cycle to truly exist, it must be presupposed that one side can voluntarily stop the cycle if it simply does not respond to the other side’s violence. This is simply not true in this conflict. If Israel stopped going after Hamas, Hamas wouldn’t just recognize Israel’s right to exist and stop attacking it. Their terrorism is rational because it works. Repeatedly aiming to blow up civilians is not the “desperate” acts of those with no other recourse. Each act of terrorism is an act of “hope” in the fight to destroy Israel.

Hamas must be defeated.

As far as disproportionate, if one must use the term disproportionate as it relates to Israel, the term should be used as follows:

Israel has been disproportionate in its contributions that benefit humanity in the fields of science, medicine, and green energy.


Israel has earned disproportionate goodwill to have a viable state in which its Jewish citizens, outcast from both Europe and most of the Arab world, are free to help better their lives and lives throughout the world, without threat.

Israel has more than earned its place at the table of Nations. People in every corner of the world are much better off because of Israel’s existence. They eat better and are healthier.

Yet, as it exists today, Israel, even with its success and contribution to humanity, is not a viable state without the financial and military aid of the United States.

When the dust settles on the Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict, the international community should help resolve it in such a way that Palestinians who want to, have room enough to live full lives in their own State or as citizens in the vast under-populated areas that stretch from the Morocco to Iraq, and Israel should be large enough to be prosperous, self-sufficient and independent on its own.

This day is not yet upon us. Unfortunately, world leaders pay disproportionate attention to which side of the bread their economies are oiled, and too little attention to the fact that Israel is disproportionately good.

--David Naggar

Friday, February 01, 2008

Identity Politics, U.S. Democrats, Gaza and Israel


Identity politics are terrible. Just ask Barack Obama. He wants to be thought of as the best person to be President of the United States. For political purposes, some have manipulated voter perception of his identity so that he widely seen as the BLACK man candidate running against the white WOMAN candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Identity politics won’t tell us who might make a better President, but this form of segregating people by “groups” is potent in electoral politics.

Identity politics are at work in Gaza. Arabs who live or lived within an arbitrary area drawn by the British after World War I are defined as Palestinians. Arabs who live outside this area are identified with other marks and labels.

It is a dubious way to segregate people.

The people who now live in Gaza are living in an overly crowded corner of the world. They need either to be absorbed as equals into the vast lands of existing Muslim/Arabs States, or they need to be allocated an ample amount of the planet so that they can govern themselves in a self-sufficient contiguous State.

Even those who blame Israel for the Gazans spilling into Egypt should see the larger point. There isn’t enough room within Israel and the territories for two or three SUCCESSFUL fully independent States.

But there is PLENTY of room in the region. Saudi Arabia itself is roughly EIGHTY times larger that Israel and the territories.

But just like some American politicians, the international community plays the identity politics game when it suits it. World leaders don’t want to interfere with the recognized borders of the surrounding States, even though those borders are the invention of last century’s mostly European powers.

Today’s international community continues its harmful attempt to impose a two-state solution in this tiny geography. People who need help are being hurt. They have been told how they must identify themselves to the point where most, at least on some level, now do. This is shameful.

It is time to either unwind the identity politics created in the area over the last century, or accept the new identity by allocating to this group of people enough land to be independently successful.

If part of Egypt’s vast desert is expropriated for a larger home for Palestinians, or Gazans, or Arabs that wish to self-govern—by whatever future self-chosen subgroup name—then the international community should help make that peacefully happen. It should drop the identity game and accept the reality that the people currently living within Gaza are not different than people living right next door to Gaza on the other side of the wall, in present day Egypt.

And as for Israel—the sole Jewish majority State, a State that fosters the liberty and freedom of Jews—the world and all of humanity will greatly benefit by Israel becoming large enough to be independently viable.

Undoubtedly, afforded the opportunity to independently prosper, Israeli Jews will play a big part in fulfilling the global need for post-oil energy and an improved environment. Current Israel, even while being propped up by outside States, and being forced to squander resources fighting for its very survival, has already made undeniably huge contributions in the arts, medicine, science and technology.

There are nearly 200 United Nations member States. The international community should rally so that no Arab, however defined by sub-group, suffers abuse by fellow human beings or our international institutions, and that Jews, whose self-identity has not wavered for centuries, are in charge of one State large enough to thrive in our global village.

--David Naggar

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Please God Mr. Prime Minister, I Hope You Know Something I Don’t.


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Events have shown you to be a brilliant political tactician. That is why I am at a loss to understand your negotiating tactics on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people on the global stage.

I hope you know something I don’t.

Let’s go over what we both know.

We both know that the international community (the IC) doesn’t really care how the Israeli-Arab/Muslim problem is solved. The IC just cares that the problem is resolved so that peace and prosperity in their home countries is not affected.

We both know that for the most part, each country acts in its own self-interest. This should be expected.

Because there are 100 times more Arabs and Muslims than Jews, many Arab and Muslim majority countries and only one Jewish one, and much more Arab/Muslim wealth than Jewish wealth, there are more self-interest reasons to side with the Arabs and Muslims and against Israel.

The upshot of this is that if Israel were willing to commit suicide, the IC would not care. We both know this.

On the other hand, if the Arab countries agreed to a larger Israel, the IC would not care either. The IC would not shed a tear if the solution entailed a Palestinian State in place of Jordan, or in Jordan, or in Saudi Arabia.

The IC would also not care if there were no Palestinian State at all (as long as Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims didn’t insist on one). Nor would the IC care if Palestinians were absorbed in the vast empty space of the existing 21 Arab States in the Middle East. The IC just wants A solution.

Mr. Prime Minister, I presume we both know all of the above. Don’t we?

So here’s my concern with your negotiating tactic.

You have publicly championed a two-state solution in this tiny geography. You have stated repeatedly that this is the only way for Israel to survive.

Well then, given that the IC doesn’t care about the solution, or the best solution, but just wants A solution, haven’t you created a self-fulfilling prophecy that AT BEST Israel is to return to the 1967 (give or take) borders? Haven’t you created a self-fulfilling prophecy that AT BEST Israel is to be completely dependent on globalization and global trade for the rest of its days?

Mr. Prime Minister, did you ever wonder why the Arabs haven’t insisted that Israel return to the 1947 partition plan borders, but only the 1949-1967 borders?

The answer, I believe, is clear. You would object. Israel would object. The IC would conclude such an Arab/Muslim demand is a non-starter with Israel, and would not lead to a solution. That would end the matter. Arabs/Muslims don't presently even bother to ask for this.

Where does your tactic lead Israel?

Every country that expects a fair measure of prosperity for its citizens in the long term—and this includes Israel—must necessarily be self sufficient when it come to defending itself, feeding itself, and supplying itself with the energy resources it needs.

Currently Israel can only defend itself with the aid of the United States, and it cannot feed or supply itself with food, water and energy. This is untenable. But this is your public stance for Israel’s future.

Your public stance has cut the legs from under anyone who 1) believes that a larger Israel is necessary for Israel’s well-being, 2) believes that Palestinian lives would be more readily improved if their plight was recognized and addressed as a humanitarian one, and 3) believes that members of the IC, who don’t care how the problems of the region are solved, will champion ANY solution they see as having the greatest chance of success.

Your public stance has cut the legs from under any American Congressman who believes that the two-state solution in this tiny-geography is foolish and will not lead to a permanent solution.

Your public stance has cut the legs from under any Muslim politician who one day might recognize the true history of the area (including Jerusalem) and say that a viable Israel is a welcomed addition to the Middle-East. It was not too long ago in history when King Abdullah’s great-uncle called the idea of much larger proposed Israel “moderate and proper.”

As it stands, anyone who freely proposes that Israel should be geographically larger than Israel’s Prime Minister thinks it should be, will be mocked or marginalized. This, Mr. Prime Minister, is the result of your public stance.

Your public stance, as Prime Minister of one of the disputing parties, is the IC’s ceiling. No one can credibly ask for more on behalf of the sole Jewish majority state.

YOUR public stance is the point from which the negotiation with Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims begins.

Do you really think your stance will win Israel friends and make it a permanent hero with the IC? Mr. Prime Minister, appeasing tyrants and negotiating with them from perceived weakness is the path to war, not peace. This is where your public stance seems to be leading.

Are you preparing for war?

Please God Mr. Prime Minister, I hope you know something I don’t.

--David Naggar