The Rabbi Writes

The Jewish Humanist, January 1998, Vol. XXXIV, Number 6

Tel Aviv is the place to be at the beginning of October 1998,  especially if you are a Humanistic Jew. The seventh annual conference of our International Federation will convene in Israel’s biggest and most secular city. 

There are many good reasons for us to hold this important meeting in Tel Aviv. This coming year all of Israel and all the Jewish world will be celebrating the fiftieth birthday anniversary of the independence of the Jewish state. In May 1948 David Ben-Gurion proclaimed that Israel was a sovereign republic. The place of that Proclamation was not Jerusalem but Tel Aviv, the city invented by Zionism. Coincidentally, Zionism is celebrating the Centennial of its creation in Basel in 1897. Two important anniversaries coincide and dramatize the centrality of Israel in contemporary Jewish life. 

In 1994 we held our conference in Jerusalem. But that city has been taken over by the ultra-Orthodox and aggressive ‘black hats’. Tel Aviv remains the center of that secular Hebrew culture which, over the years we have come to identify with the Israeli world. Today that secular culture is threatened by the ambitions of an arrogant Orthodox minority, who, in collusion with a nationalist government that values power over Integrity, is seeking to establish a new Israeli culture. This new culture would find its roots in the restrictions of traditional Judaism and in the political supervision of traditional rabbis.  

Secular and humanist Jews need to resist this betrayal of the Zionist ideal. We have to stand in solidarity with our secular brothers and sisters in the Jewish state to announce our united opposition to creeping the theocracy and to mobilize our forces to offer resistance. The Tel Aviv conference will be an opportunity for Israelis and Diaspora Jews, who value humanism in Jewish life, to make a public and dramatic stand. We want many members of our Temple and our movement to be present, so that our combined voices will be heard.  

These are traumatic times for the Jewish State. While the economy continues to perform well, fueled by privatization and foreign investment, the morale of the Israeli public is low. The peace process has collapsed. The ‘civil war’ between the secularists and the orthodox is hotting up. Public opinion all over the world is turning hostile. The government of Bibi Netanyahu is bumbling and ineffective, humiliated by scandal and despised by the leaders of its own political Coalition. Both liberals and conservatives are depressed in the absence of pragmatic direction. 

There are many dangers, which Israel now confronts. 

The American government is angry. Clinton refused to meet with Netanyahu when the Prime Minister visited the States. Albright is visibly annoyed with the Israelis (sic) refusal to abide by the Oslo peace agreement. America is losing its support in the Arab world by its obvious refusal to punish Israel. With the crisis in Iraq that support is indispensable. The alliance with America is not trivial for the Jewish State. Endangering the connection is self-destructive.  

American Jewry is also angry. The government backing of its orthodox allies in their attempt to delegitimize Reform and Conservative conversions has created tension between Israel and its most powerful Jewish supporters.  Most American Jews are not orthodox (sic). They have been insulted by this provocative ‘slap in the face’. The collective power in America is the reason why the United States supports Israel above and beyond its strategic interests. Alienating American Jews is another foolish act of self-destruction. 

Secular Jews and Israel are experiencing the intrusion of orthodox (sic) demands more and more. Neighborhoods and towns, which were historically secular, have now been taken over by orthodox (sic) ‘invaders’. Confrontation and violence are undermining the sense of belonging that secular Jews have felt since the beginning of the Zionist venture. The ‘black hats’ are taking over the state that the zionists (sic) created. Jewish Israel is being divided into two opposing and hostile camps. 

Immigration is getting matched by emigration. Many secular Jews are leaving an environment, which has become unfamiliar and uncomfortable for them. While the exodus is still small, it is a sign of a growing frustration among Israelis with the new religious militancy. The old Ashkenazic elite are discovering that they are now a minority in a population that finds no problem in mixing rabbis and government. 

Moderate Arab states are turning away from Israel. They are covering their bets by cultivating the opposition. Strident denunciations of Iraq and Libya are vanishing. Invitations by Iranian conferences are accepted. Israeli security depends on friendly Arabs on the Israeli border. Neither Egypt nor Jordan wish to be seen as the friends of the enemies of Palestinian independence. 

All of these developments are troubling to secular Zionists throughout the Jewish world. The Jewish state is the most important creation of the Jewish people in the last nineteen centuries. It has helped restore Jewish dignity. It has rescued hundreds of thousands of Jews from persecution and humiliation. It has provided a vital center for the development of Jewish culture. It has revived the Hebrew language and turned it into a major vehicle for Jewish expression Jewish identity. It has demonstrated the power and vitality of the Jewish people. 

It is important that Israel survive (sic) -and that it survive (sic) as a liberal democracy. We are going to Tel Aviv in October 1998 because we believe that Israel’s survival needs a stronger and more powerful secular and humanistic voice. 

Please join us. You will experience the beauties and wonders of the land and the people. You will study with top Israeli professors and scholars who will take you on personal tours of historic sites in Jerusalem. You will meet dozens of humanistic brothers and sisters who need to experience the strong support of the Jews of the Diaspora. You will discover both fun and inspiration. Above all, you will feel that you are doing something important to guarantee a humanistic future for the Jewish State.  

The Rabbi Writes: Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish Humanist, September 1977, Vol. 15, Number 1

Rosh Hashanah 

A time for annual Jewish reflection. 

A time to look back on the year that was and ask the question: 

So what is the condition of the Jews? 

The condition of the Jews is not always easy to assess. But pleases the orthodox may not please the atheist. But the conservative calls progress that liberal may label reaction! 

But there are some current problems which all would agree were (sic) troublesome. 

The problem of Israel. The strong posture of the Begin government may be initially appealing. But it remains pure bravado unless Begin can find the Jews to occupy the territories he wishes to annex. In an ironic sense Begin and the old Arafat agree that Israel (or Palestine, if you wish) should remain undivided. For the Arabs the Begin state will in the long run be an Arab State. A bigger Jewish state, without Jewish immigration is the first step to an Arab Palestine. 

The problem of Russia. Russian anti-Semitism continues. In a recent issue of the magazine Moskva, Anatoly Scharansky asserted that Jewish bankers are not yet in power everywhere… it remains the most important task of the Zionist brain center to capture the key positions in the economic, administrative and idelogical machine of the countries of the diaspora… It is natural that such monstrous teachings could not fail to arouse vigilance, dislike and even hostility on the part of people with even a minimum of sense. The so-called Jewish world conspiracy becomes a convenient diversion on the part of the authorities to explain the inadequacies of the Soviet system and to justify anti-semitism. If three million Jews were not trapped within the boundaries of the Soviet Union, the statement would be ludicrous. 

The problem of Argentina. One of the largest Jewish communities in the world (numbering 500,000) is suffering the evils of an incompetent military dictatorship. Terrorism, inflation and unofficial antisemitism are on undermining the security of our Argentine Jewry. A competent dictatorship would at least (sic), have arranged for economic stability! Since the situation is not bad enough for emigration, ambivalence reigns. 

The problem of South Africa. It is only a matter of time before black (sic) nationalism sweeps away the Rhodesian regime and creates civil turmoil in South Africa. Given the power of the Africaner (sic) army it is unlikely that the whites will be driven into the sea in the near future. But South African whites, including 120,000 Jews will be living in the midst of riots and terrorist provocation. No matter how liberal Jews may choose to be, they are condemned to being white. The present emigration of Jewish professionals is the trickle before the flood.  

The problem of Quebec. Montreal had, until recently, the largest and most vital Jewish community in Canada. It’s English-speaking establishment including the Jews is unfrightened (sic) of the future. French Canadian nationalism, like most nationalism (sic) is economically irrational. But it is politically relentless. Toronto is also beginning to experience the exodus of Jews from Quebec. As recent history has demonstrated neither nationalism nor socialism have served Jewish interests well.  

But enough problems.  

What positive things exist? 

Two assets come to mind . 

1.The Arabs are incapable of uniting against Israel. Their hostility for each other in some cases seems to be greater than the hostility to Israel. During the past year Arabs fought Arabs in both Lebanon and Libya. A new public ally has emerged for Israel. The Maronite Christian Arabs of Lebanon prefer Jews to their fellow Arabs. 

2. The largest Jewish community In the world (some six million) have managed, for some reason or other, to end up in the most powerful nation in the world. America is today the industrial, intellectual and artistic center of our planet. Either the Soviet Union or Western Europe have the cultural vitality of the United States. Jewish power is a function of the Jewish presence in America. Leadership in the arts and sciences is disproportionately Jewish. While many Jews are embarrassed by our conspicuous presence (and think that we should never mention it in a public magazine), others like me are justifiably pleased and believe that our enemies should be reminded repeatedly of what they already know.  

This is reason enough for Jews to say Happy New Year.  

The Rabbi Writes: 1986

The Jewish Humanist, January 1986, Vol. XXIII, Number 6

1986. 

A new year. A new agenda for problem solving. Old issues unresolved. New issues waiting to take center stage. 

What will be the major issues of 1986 – for Americans, for the world at large, for Jews in particular?  

1.As Americans, we will be devoting our attention to the following issues.  

Tax reform. Reagan’s proposal to provide more equity and simplicity for the taxation system has encountered so much hostility from both the left and the right that it is doubtful that any reasonable facsimile of the original proposal will ever pass Congress. But Reagan is determined that some form of tax reform bill be passed, even if the Democratic House distorts it. The momentum of his fiscal “revolution” and the prestige of his administration rest on success in this campaign. 

Budget balancing. The rebellion of Reagan’s own Republican followers in the House of Representatives against the deficit removal plan designed by Democrats, but endorsed by the President, was a political surprise. Arbitrating the debate between the left-wingers who want to cut defense expenditures and right-wingers who want to cut welfare money is no easy task.  But even liberals now concede that a sound economy demands a balanced budget. So the battle will continue-with every vested interest willing to eliminate every government benefit except its own. 

Farm devastation. The plight of the American farmer remains in the spotlight. Despite the new farm credit relief bill, a substantial minority of our agricultural entrepreneurs face bankruptcy. Americans are trapped by ambivalence. Farm subsidies are unpopular because they interfere with a balanced budget. Allowing the farm population to shrink is equally unpopular because most Americans believe that the last reservoir of traditional American virtue lies in the family life of the rural population. Resolving the ambivalence will provide a lot of public agony. 

Crime. Prison overcrowding and the early release of dangerous criminals has captured the public attention. Nothing is so personal as the universal fear of assault that both urbanites and suburbanites live with. Renewed calls for capital punishment will not subside. They, most likely, will grow stronger. Feeding, housing, and rehabilitating a large criminal population is a fiscal and moral issue that confronts the alternative use of the same money for more productive purposes. 

Congressional election. The performance of last year’s do-nothing congress has highlighted the impasse which now exists in the two legislative assemblies. Chaotic individualism and the breakdown of the old party discipline has frustrated the leadership in both parties and rendered constitutional decision-making unpredictable. The fact that all the Representatives and one-third of the Senators will be running for re-election this year suggests that this year will be worse than last. Most legislators will not want to take sides on controversial issues. 

Reagan. Always superb handling the personal side of the presidency, Reagan has proved himself less than superb in his second administration in getting what he wants. Poorly formulated public policies, insensitive staff people, squabbling cabinet ministers, and Congressional rebels continue to frustrate his political ambitions and the political legacy he wants to bequeath to posterity. Reagan’s leadership effectiveness will be an important issue for 1986. Democrats will be eager to exploit his new weakness. 

 AIDS. No disease has captured public attention in a long time to the same degree that this African plague has done. The media are obsessed with providing information, both reliable and scandalous, about the pervasive dangers of contracting AIDS. The struggle between self-protection and compassion continues to make headlines. The victims of the disease, whether homosexuals, drug abusers, or children, have aroused more fear than sympathy. As the number of cases increases, the media will continue to focus on this public anxiety.  

2. As members of the world community, we will be devoting our attention to the following problems in 1986. 

Russia. Disarmament talks between America and Russia appear to have gloomy prospects in the light of the Reagan administration’s decision to proceed with the development of “Star Wars” technology. But there is such a broad International alliance of public opinion, even from conservative European circles, for something to be done that desperation will force the leaders of both countries to provide some hope. Gorbachev, in particular, since he invested his prestige in the summit conference and in the creation of some new form of detente, will not let the issue die. 

South Africa. The intransigence of the Afrikaner government is leading to civil war and martial law government. Provoked by black (sic) terror, the Afrikaners will become more adamant and English-speaking whites will begin their flight. The confirmation will continue to divide world opinion between those who are outraged by the injustice to Blacks and those who most fear the loss of South Africa to Marxist control. 

Chile. Only two military dictatorships survive in South America – Paraguay and Chile. The latter is, by far, the more important and the more volatile. Demonstrations against the dictatorship of General Pinochet are bound to increase and become more violent, especially as long as economic decline continues. World attention will be dealing with the prospects for the future. Will the left or the center return to power? 

Nicaragua.  The continuing American campaign to unseat the Sandinista government enjoys wide American support and very little world support.  The presence of a second Marxist government in the Americas is intolerable to most U.S. conservatives, who see the present regime in Nicaragua as a form of dangerous Soviet penetration of the security belt of our country.  Support for the contras will remain a controversial issue. 

Philippines.  The corruption of the Marcos government, the killing of his chief opponent, and the rising Communist insurgency make the forthcoming election an intriguing test of alternatives.  If Corazon Aquino is able to unseat Marcos, will she yield to pressure from anti-American forces in her own party to repudiate the American alliance?  If Marcos remains in power, will his victory incite civil war and lead to the growing success of the Communist rebels?  As a strategically important nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippines merits our concern. 

3. As members of the Jewish people, we will be dealing with the following anxieties in 1986. 

Pollard Case.  The unfortunate spy fiasco in which Israeli agents were caught paying an American Jew to procure military secrets from a military ally was a traumatic embarrassment for Israel and the Jews who support it.  Questions of dual loyalty and the patriotism of American Jews resurfaced.  The desirability of the Israeli alliance was challenged by angry politicians.  And the Israeli government was confronted with a major crisis.  Given the fact that Pollard will face a public trial, the Israeli “perfidy” will remain very much in the public eye, and enemies of Israel will take advantage of their new opportunity. 

Peace.  The attempts of the Israeli Labor government to establish some basis for peace negotiations with Jordan and other Arab states will continue.  Most likely, in order to strengthen his hand and to avoid handing over leadership control to YItshak Shamir, his political opponent, in accordance with the coalition agreement, Shimon Peres will call an early election.  If Labor wins, the prospects for some form of peace negotiations will be good.  If Labor loses, confrontation will return. 

As you can see, the problems of 1986-like the issues of 1985-are formidable.  But we have no choice but to deal with them. 

The Rabbi Writes

The Jewish Humanist, February 1991, Vol. XXVII, Number 7

I am writing this message on January 11, four days before the UN deadline for Saddam Hussein to pull out of Kuwait. 

I do not know what will happen.  I do not know whether Saddam will choose to withdraw from Kuwait or to fight.  I do not know whether there will be war or peace. 

But what I do know is that I support the policy of George Bush (for whom I did not vote) in the Gulf crisis.  No other alternative seems able to do what needs to be done. 

Why do I support the Bush policy? 

I support Bush because Saddam Hussein is a major threat to world order.  The end of the cold War is no guarantee of a peaceful planet.  Ambitious rulers of ambitious Third World countries, armed with the sophisticated weapons of the West, can ultimately prove as provocative and as dangerous as the Soviet Union.  The Muslim world, in particular, dominated by the rival ideologies of religious fundamentalism and national socialism, has the potential for widespread defiance of peaceful coexistence.  The issue is more than oil.  If Saddam Hussein succeeds in holding onto Kuwait and proceeds to develop nuclear weapons, he would have no compunction to use or share, the message will be clear.  Any tinpot dictator, with guts and guns, can do what he chooses to do without any fear of effective reprisal.  The dream of a functioning United Nations, within the framework of a peaceful and disciplined world order, a dream that the end of the Cold War seemed to be turning into a reality, would be completely shattered.  Whether Kuwait was a feudal tyranny or not is completely irrelevant.  It was invaded and annexed against the will of its people. 

I support Bush because he has not chosen to make the punishment of Iraq an exclusively American action.  Not only has he mobilized the support of our traditional allies but he has also secured the endorsement of the United Nations.  The confrontation with Iraq is not an American confrontation.  It is the confrontation of the world community with a recalcitrant nation.  Even many Arab nations have joined this international effort.  The crime of Saddam Hussein is not the violation of American economic interests  The crime of Hussein is against world order and against the United Nations which embodies that ideal.  I am not naive about the Western fear of losing control of critical oil fields.  But I am aware that most actions have more than one motivation.  The American obsession with oil does not diminish the callous rejection of peaceful coexistence engineered by Saddam and his Iraqi devotees. 

I support Bush because economic sanctions will not work to persuade Hussein to withdraw. If there is no military threat, lowered standards of living and deteriorating military equipment will not be sufficient to persuade a fanatic regime to surrender, especially if the Iraqi people see themselves as the vanguard of an Arab resistance movement.  In time holes will open in the embargo circle as the nations of the world weary of their vigil and the Arab people come to revere Saddam as a successful symbol of defiance of “Western Imperialism”.  The threat of military action is not intended to produce war.  It is intended to persuade the adversary to avoid war.  But if there is no military ultimatum, a determined adversary, inured to suffering, will find no reason to change the course of his action. 

I support Bush because waiting for our allies to make equal sacrifices is to abdicate our responsibility.  Whether we like it or not, our role has been and continues to be parental.  Parents cannot afford to be peevish, withdrawing into a corner until the children choose to behave.  It is certainly true that nations like France, Germany and Japan, who will benefit mightily from American sacrifice, ought to be doing more than they are doing.  But their refusal to fulfill their moral responsibilities does not absolve us from fulfilling ours.  Hopefully, in time, our role as the leader of the democratic nations will become less parental and their role will become more mature.  I do not prescribe to a prevailing libeeral critique that American leadership is nothing more than Western Imperialism and that American foreign policy is devoid of any idealism.  On the contrary, despite our many deficiencies, the only great power with any willingness to defend the maintenance of world order has been America.  The invasions of Grenada and Panama were not the invasion of Kuwait.  They enjoyed the overwhelming support of the people of these nations, who viewed the military action as liberation. 

I support Bush because a conflict with Iraq is not the same as the war in Vietnam.  The war in Vietnam was part of the Cold War, a war against the powerful Soviet Union and, therefore, unwinable (sic).  (It is amazing that Saddam chose to invade Kuwait after the Cold War had come to an end and after his Soviet allies were willing to come to his aid.) But Iraq stands virtually alone, devoid of powerful allies and assaulted by hostile Arab powers.  Iraq stands against the world.  Her vulnerability is far greater than Vietnam.  If the legacy of Vietnam in America is that we are no longer willing to engage in any military action short of the defense of American territory from aggressive assault, then the legacy is dangerous.  As the one remaining world power, we have world responsibilities.  The defense of world order is one of them. 

I hope that by the publication of this message Saddam has chosen to withdraw from Kuwait.  If he has, it will be because of the threat of military action.  But if he remains in Kuwait, the military alternative, painful as it appears to be, is the only effective answer to this provocation. 

Whether there is peace or war it is clear that the Gulf crisis is inevitably linked to the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the minds of both our Arab and European allies.  The resolution of the gulf (sic) crisis must ultimately lead to an American initiative, under the aegis of the United Nations, to find a solution to the Arab-Jewish struggle.  The disciplining of Saddam may have positive consequences in other parts of the Middle East and lead to the resolution of other conflicts. 

The Rabbi Writes

The Jewish Humanist, April 1996, Vol. XXXII, Number 9

Sixty-two people were killed by terrorist bombs.  It all happened in one week.  Israel will never be the same again. 

In one week the peace process was turned around.  Shimon Peres, who was riding high in the polls and who had called for elections with hopes of winning, is now the underdog again.  The advantage that hte assassination of Rabin had given the Labor party and the peaceniks has been canceled out by the memory of the more recent killings.  The conservative Likud, with its leader Benyamin Netanyahu, has been “reborn” and is confident of winning the election in May.  The Orthodox sector which had been deeply humiliated and embarrassed by its connection to the assassin Yigal Amir, has now become the voice of righteous indignation.  Its leaders have rediscovered their self-confidence and are again calling the Labor party, and the leaders of the peace movement, traitors and blasphemers.  Hamas has succeeded in doing what the terrorists passionately want-evoking profound fear in the Israeli public that the peace initiative will only lead to the destruction of Israel. 

The peace forces in Israel are now the defensive.  Standing against the peace forces is the renewed legitimacy of the opposition and the unrelenting fear of the Orthodox.  The Israeli public is fickle.  But it is also human.  It needs the satisfaction of vengeance.  It also needs to process the emotional trauma of the outrage. 

What is going to happen?  Certain realities guide our perspective. 

Reality.  There is no fool-proof anti-terrorist strategy.  Any determined assassin can put together his own bomb and-if he is willing to die-can blow himself up without easy detection.  Even if Israel seals its borders there are close to one million Israeli Arabs residing within the borders of the Jewish state.  There is no way to eliminate the bombings.  Religious fundamentalism can produce the kinds of assassins that rational philosophies cannot.  If the peace process is to continue it has to continue in the face of periodic killings. 

Reality.  Shimon Peres and Yasir Arafat are tied together.  If one falls the other falls too.  Both Likud and Hamas share a common agenda.  They both want to terminate the present peace process.  They both want to remove Peres and Arafat from power.  But neither Likud nor Hamas have a clear idea what to do after the “fall”.  Can Hamas mobilize a “holy war”?  Can Likud persuade the Istaeli public to resume carrying the burden of the intifada and the hostility of a bitter Arab world? 

Reality.  The fate of all moderate Arab governments rests on the maintenance of Peres and Arafat in power.  It is not clear that Mubarak of Egypt or Hussein of Jordan would survive a Hamas victory.  The great danger is that the Israeli public, in its anger, will trigger the downfall of the two forces in the Near East that make Israeli security possible. If the fundamentalists win among the Palestinians they will also win in vulnerable Egypt and shaky Jordan.  Hamas has much more to gain from its strategy than Likud.  A fundamentalist Egypt or Jordan would turn Israel into an indefensible fortress.   

Reality.  The peace process has turned the Israeli economy into one of the most successful and fastest growing in the world.  One of the reasons is the renewal of Israeli relations with the once hostile Third World.  The renewal of hostilities would seriously undermine this prosperity.  For consumer culture Israel, the blow would encourage emigration and discourage immigration. 

Reality.  The vested interest of the United States is to support moderate governments in the Middle East and to maintain the peace process.  The American government, whether Democratic or Republican, needs a Labor government maintained in power by the May elections.  The American strategy would be seriously harmed by a Likud victory.  The recent summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt was a showy American attempt to counter the fundamentalist threat. 

Reality.  The “ball” is now in Arafat’s court.  His strategy of trying to please both the Israelis and Hamas will not work.  His “bread” is “buttered” on the Isaeli side.  He must turn vigorously against the fundamentalists if the Isaeli public is to support continuing the alliance with him.  He must declare war on Hamas and actively cooperate with the Israeli army in apprehending the terrorist leadership.  Since over one-third of the Palestinians support Hamas, he can only do this by authoritarian measures and by limiting democratic freedom.  The alternatives are not wonderful.  But, right now, peace is more important than democracy. 

Reality.  There is no real alternative to the present peace process.  Trying to reverse it means the renewal of war, the fall of moderate Arab governments and the loss of American support.  Trying to maintain the status quo by keeping the Palestinians locked up in little autonomous enclaves will only lead to the renewal of the intifada.  Closing the borders and excluding all Palestinian labor from the West Bank and Gaza will destroy whatever viable Palestinian economy already exists and insure Hamas control of the Palestinians.  Negotiating with Hussein to take over the Palestinian territories would undermine his credibility in the Arab world.  Stopping the peace process is like stopping necessary surgery in the middle of the operation. 

A Peres victory in May is not sure.  But it is necessary.  In the end, more Israeli lives will be lost if Likud assumes power and the war is renewed. 

The Rabbi Writes: The War Is Over. What Do We Do Now?

The Jewish Humanist, April 1991, Vol. XXVII, Number 9

The stunning American military victory has produced both euphoria and anxiety. We are euphoric over the swift collapse of Iraqi armed resistance. We are anxious over the ambiguous meaning of its consequences. 

The victory has forced us to dismiss so many Illusions. Saddam Hussein is not a monstrously clever and cunning ruler. He is a  stupid man who arranged for the destruction of the Arab world’s most powerful Army. Had he read the Sunday New York Times he would have been aware of the encirclement strategy of the Schwarzkopf command. Every amateur military “maven” but him knew that the amphibious landing was a ruse. 

The war that was to last for months lasted for one month. The ground war lasted for only 100 hours. The thousands of American casualties and the use of chemical weapons never materialized, the so-called ambivalent Arab allies proved stalwart. The bickering European allies were supportive. The impulsive Israelis exercised noble restraint. The much maligned American Army performed brilliantly. Even Mr. “wimp-macho” George Bush turned out to be a sensational manager and orchestrator of events. 

The war has produced consequences both pleasant and unpleasant. The Iraqi Army is destroyed. The regime of Saddam Hussein and his Baath party teeters on the brink of collapse. The authority of the United Nations has been strengthened. America has been reconfirmed as the hegemonic military power in the world.  

But, on the other side, thousands of Iraqs were killed. Iraq is in economic ruin. Kuwait is a devastation. Chaos and rebellion stalk Iraq and threaten to dismember it.  

The victory has left us with so many questions.  What do we do with Iraq? Do we let Saddam Hussein stay in power? Do we allow Iraq to disintegrate into many pieces? Do we punish war crimes? How do we arrange for the destruction of chemical weapons and the payment of reparations? Will American troops have to remain to enforce the peace? 

And what about Kuwait? Will we allow the former tyrannical regime to return to full power?  Will we be able to cope with the ecological disaster of burning oil? 

And what about Israel? Will we use our new power to force a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Will we negotiate with Palestinian leaders who supported Saddam Hussein? So many questions need a very clear vision of the future. They need a well thought out and consistent foreign policy. Formulating it and sticking to it may be harder than waging the war. But if the wrong vision is chosen all the benefits of victory will be lost. The crucial issue right now is how America will choose to use its enormous power to ensure peace. 

Many visions have emerged as options. There is the option of revenge, which would settle merely for the punishment, humiliation and destruction of our enemies. There is the option of imperialism which would dictate our support of any regime in the Middle East that guaranteed our access to cheap oil. There is the option of pure idealism which would require us to try to establish liberal democracies in every country of the Muslim world, whether such governments are feasible or not. 

The vision that is most appealing to me, the one that mixes idealism and pragmatism, is the vision of world order. George Bush cited world order as the major reason for presenting the war against Iraq. Despite the loftiness of the title it simply means that waging war for aggressive purposes will not be allowed.  Dictators that behave, dictators that do not cross boundaries, can remain in power. We prefer democracy. We will strive to intrude democratic ideals whenever possible. But we will not insist on it. We do not have the power to arrange for democracy everywhere.  But, at this present moment, we do have the power to arrange for world order. 

What are the constituent elements of this vision?  Pursuing word order means that we freeze existing boundaries, prevent the proliferation of arms, pursue disarmament, strengthen the United Nations, work to create an effective United Nations peacekeeping force and encourage regional self-discipline.  None of this can be done by America alone.  Only the cooperation of the Great Powers, including the Soviet Union, China, Germany and Japan will make our efforts effective.  Both the new coalition against Iraq and a revived United Nations make this shared responsibility feasible. 

The option of world order is not “pie-in-the-sky”.  It is urgently needed.  And it is perfectly consistent with the vital interests of an international economy which requires peace and safety for economic stability.  Multinational corporations derive no benefit from untrammeled nationalism and aggressive war. 

What are the implications of this vision as a foreign policy, as a way of dealing with the consequences of the Iraqi war? 

It means that we applaud the ultimate fall of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party.  It means that we offer no assistance to Shiiite fundamentalists who are seeking to replace Hussein with an Iranian style theocracy.  Another Islamic republic is not conducive to stability in the region. 

It means that we support the establishment of a coalition government in Iraq, which will reflect the interests of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.  If this coalition can be arrived at democratically all the better.  But the partition of Iraq into three independent states would only promote chaos in a Middle East where all boundaries are artificial. 

It means that we do not leave Iraq until a permanent ceasefire has been arranged, until chemical weapons have been destroyed and until an Arab peacekeeping force has been organized to police the border. 

It means that we support the establishment of Arab regional self-discipline in which the Arab victors of the war, the Egyptians, the Syrians and the Saudis, cooperate to maintain order especially in Iraq and Lebanon. 

It means that America apply (sic) pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Arab victors of the war to exchange land for peace. With Iraq out of the military way, and with Egypt having made peace with Israel, the possibility of peace with the Syrians and the Saudis is a distinct possibility. Now is the time for negotiation. The Palestinians are weak, humiliated and hated even by their Arab defenders. And Arab moderates are in the ascendancy. Once Israel establishes a basis for cooperation with the Arab moderates, she has little to fear from the Palestinians. Arab moderates may be perfectly willing to accept a Palestine federated with Jordan. In the age of missiles, the Golan Heights are less important to Israel than peace with Syria, a Syria that has no desire for an independent Palestinian state. 

It means that arms sales to Third World countries, including Middle East countries, need to be controlled through an American initiative in cooperation with the United States. Disarmament talks between the United States and the Soviet Union need to be supplemented with an international conference of arms producing nations to establish workable criteria for effective control. Arms sales cannot realistically be stopped immediately. Too many jobs depend on them. But they can be gradually scaled down through international agreement and shared sacrifice. It means that now is the time to begin the process of creating an international peacekeeping force, under the auspices of the United Nations, which can intervene effectively if future Saddam Husseins (sic) arise, and if regional forces are too weak to respond. This force will take at least ten years to develop and will require American support.  American hegemony is too expensive for America to afford. We need to share responsibility, or we shall over-reach and destroy what we have already accomplished. 

It means that we seriously develop an alternative to oil as the fuel of our economy. Given the history of technology, there is no reason to assume that such an alternative cannot be found if natural resources are united in the search. For the foreseeable future oil will be indispensable to our prosperity. But, in the end, we cannot allow the Middle East to be the arbiter of our economic fate. Nor can we afford the pollution disaster attendant on the use of oil.  

The vision of world order, if acted on, would translate the military victory in the Gulf into a real victory.  

Israel after the Election

Humanistic Judaism, Vol 24, No 3, Summer 1996

The Israeli election is over, but the shock is not. If we are committed to the peace process, how do we live with a Likud victory? What does the election of Benjamin Netanyahu mean? What are the consequences we need to confront? What is an appropriate response? 

The election took place amid a peace effort that had been going on for more than three years. Agreements had been signed with the Palestianian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Jordan. Gaza had been evacuated. Six major urban areas and the the West Bank had been turned over to the Palestinian Authority. A Palestianian police force had been organized. An election for a Palestinian president and parliament had been held. Joint economic projects between Israel and Jordan had been launched. Dozens of Third World countries had ended their boycott of Israel. Investors were stimulating the economy. Israeli troops were about to depart from Hebron. 

The election took place amid still-fresh memories of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and even more vivid memories of fundamentalist terrorism. The militants were determined to undermine the peace process. Israel responded by striking massively at Lebanon. A tragic accident turned retaliation into a public relations disaster. 

The election featured an innovation. Until 1996 the choice of prime minister was up to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. The people elected members of the Knesset, and the Knesset, in turn, chose the head of the government. The prime minister was usually the leader of the largest party in the Knesset. This time there were two elections: one for the Knesset and one, American-style, for the head of the government. 

This change, which was intended to enhance the authority of the prime minister, should have been accompanied by an American- or British-style system of parliamentary constituencies. Such a move would have eliminated small parties, created a two-party system, and made the prime minister the leader of a majority party. But the small parties in the Knesset insisted on retaining proportional representation, and the result was a political monstrosity. As in the past, the victorious prime minister might end up as the leader of a minority party and would have to paste together a coalition of small parties in order to govern; but now, small parties would proliferate because the people’s vote for representatives in the Knesset was no longer connected to their preference for prime minister. 

That is exactly what happened. Netanyahu was elected prime minister, but his Likud party came in second in the parliamentary running, with only thirty-two members. Under the old system the Labor Party, with thirty-four members, would have been invited to organize the government, and the peace process would have continued. But Netanyahu is now the prime minister regardless of the size of his party in the Knesset. The election also enhanced the Orthodox representation because Orthodox Jews no longer had to vote Likud to get a Likud prime minister. The Orthodox vote in the Knesset is now at an all-time high of twenty-three. The Knesset is hopelessly fragmented. The new system is worse than the old. 

Furthermore, Netanyahu won by only one percentage point. While many observers point out that he won a clear majority of the Jewish vote, that observation illustrates the problemL the Arabs who voted for Peres are not regarded as “real” Israelis. This response, the closeness of the vote, and the rise of Orthodox political power have exacerbated the resentment and despair of supporters of the peace process. 

Certain realities seem clear. 

Israel is changing. The secular rein of the original Zionists is fading. The religious sector is growing in numbers and influence. The Oriental immigration and the Six Day War started a chain of consequences that undermined secular strength. Most Sephardic Jews are not pious, but they are religious by sentiment. And the acquisition of the West Bank, with its traditional shrines, brought the militant Orthodox to Israel. 

The Sephardic vote has returned to its familiar place on the Right. (In Israel, the rich vote liberal and the poor vote conservative; nationalism and religion are more important issues to many Israelis than economic ones.) Terrorism reawakened the historic distatse for and fear of Arabs among the Oriental Jews. The Shas party, the voice of the Sephardic Orthodox, jumped from six Knesset members to ten on the strength of sacred amulets and the promise of a better afterlife. 

The gulf between secular and religious Israel is widening. The secular want peace; the religious want land. The secular want personal freedom; the religious want conformity to traditional norms. The secular value science and democracy; the religious value faith and authority. In many ways Jewish fundamentalists are closer to Muslim fundamentalists then they are to Jewish secularists. The handing over of education and culture into Orthodox hands will aggravate the confrontation as secular Jews join forces against the revived power of militant Orthodoxy. 

Netanyahu does not believe in the peace process. But, because of external pressure, especially from the United States, he cannot avoid it. He has to publicly support peace, although he may privately oppose it. Without a Palestinian state there will be no peace. Netanyahu and his allies are unalterably opposed to such a state. No matter what is said, that reality undermines the peace process that Shimon Peres and Rabin began. Verbal courtesies will not be able to cover up the incompatibility of agendas. The Palestinians and the Arab world will not settle for cliches. 

The peace process will unravel. Hebron will not be fully evacuated. The “liberated” cities of the West Bank will become depressed ghettos surrounded and intimidated by Israeli troops. The departure of Orthodox settlers from the West Bank will stop, and new Orthodox settlements will be encouraged. The Palestinian economy will become the yo-yo of the Israeli government. The authority of Yasser Arafat will vanish. King Hussein of Jordan, fearful of his own Palestinians, will withdraw his enthusiasm for reconciliation. Arab moderates, unable to rely on Israeli cooperation, will turn back to militant Arab nationalists for safety, support, and solidarity. The confrontation in Lebanon will grow more intense. Likud will try to make a deal with the fundamentalist Hamas, exchanging access to Israeli jobs for an end to terrorism. Such an outrageous agreement would bring together two hard line opponents, which hate each other but are mutually opposed to the kind of Palestinian state that Arafat, Arab moderates, and Israeli “peaceniks” envision. 

Peace with Syria is out. It most likely would have been impossible even if Peres won. Syrian President Hafez al-Assad can justify his repressive government only by war with Israel. Peace would leave him exposed to the dangers of democracy and open borders. But now Assad will have a public justification of his confrontational position and his refusal to rein in the terrorist Shiites of Lebanon. He will also continue to cozy up to Arab moderates, who will become increasingly frustrated with the peace process, and he will simultaneously continue his liaison with Iran. 

Arab moderates will be in great danger. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek has to face a continuing civil war with fundamentalists. Hussein of Jordan has to contend with militant Palestinians. Maintaining their power will not be easy. They are very vulnerable to radical takeovers. One of the main reasons for Israeli support of the peace process has been to guarantee a friendly Egypt and a friendly Jordan. If they become hostile, no successful repression of the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza can provide for Israeli security. Forty million Egyptians mobilized by fundamentalist propaganda would spell the end of the Jewish state. Only deluded Jewish militants imagine that an Israei atomic bomb will prove a deterrent. 

Terrorism will continue. Even if Likud and Hamas make a deal, the Hezbollah in Lebanon will continue its campaign, supported by Iran though not by public opinion. Likud will point to terrorism  as justfication of its reluctance to make concessions. And the refusal to make concessions will, in turn, fuel more terrorism. 

The Israeli economy, currently booming because of the peace process, will slow down. Foreign investors will grow afraid. Military expenditures will rise. Many Third World countries will gradually withdraw their support. Many Diaspora Jews, alienated by Orthodox control, will cease their financial subsidies. 

The United States remains the only real force that can restrain Netanyahu and his allies. The American alliance is not trivial. It is the only firm foreign connection that Israel possesses. Netanyahu knows that Clinton preferred Peres, but he also knows that he needs American good will and that American strategic interests in the Middle East dictate support of the peace process. The unraveling of peace would enhance the power of Muslim fundamentalists and threaten American access to oil. Still, there is no guarantee that American pressure can sustain the peace process. Netanyahu has to find a balance between American pressure and the demands of his own extremists. Foreign minister David Levy is a moderate, but Arik Sharon, who managed to enter the cabinet at the last minute, is not. 

The peace process began during the Bush administration through American pressure on a reluctant Shamir. To avoid the no-win results of continuing a war, such pressure is needed again. American Jews need to encourage their government to apply it. 

Palestine and Jordan

Humanistic Judaism, Vol 23, No 3-4 Summer_Autumn 1995 Palest Jordan

This summer I fulfilled a dream. I crossed over from Eilat to Aqaba and journeyed to Petra and Amman. Visiting Jordan is hardly new. But crossing over from Israel is the dramatic sign that peace is beginning to work in the Middle East. 

Two Arab states — one real and one emerging — lie to the east of Israel. Both are theoretically at peace with the Jewish state. Arafat’s Palestine is a reluctant neighbor. Hussein’s Jordan is more enthusiastic. Israel, Palestine, and Jordan were, at one time, all part of British Palestine. Like Gaul, Palestine has been divided into three parts. 

Jordan used to be Transjordan. It is an artificial state with artificial boundaries, a bureaucratic creation of British imperialism. The East Bank was separated from Palestine in 1992 as a gift to an Arab ally whom England had betrayed. It was a substitute for Syria, which Britain had promised both to Hussein ibn-Ali, the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks, and to the French. Hussein’s son Faisal was given Iraq. His second son, Abdullah, was given Transjordan, then an unredeemed desert with a sprinkling of Bedouin and an isolated railroad to Mecca. Amman, the capital, was a sleepy village. 

Transjordan was transformed by the British and by the Zionist threat. Out of the remnants of Hussein’s Arab army the British fashioned the Arab Legion, the best-trained and best-disciplined Arab army in the Arab world. Most of the soldiers were Bedouin who despised and were despised by urban Arabs. In the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, this army alone prevailed against the Israelis.Their reward was the annexation of what today we call the West Bank, including Nablus, Hevron, Bethlehem, and East Jerusalem. Transjordan became Jordan. And hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Palestinian refugees became Jordanians. 

The annexation was followed by more dramatic change. King Abdullah was assassinated in 1951 because he wanted to make peace with Israel. His grandson Hussein ibn Talal, who became king in 1952, was a young and inexperienced teenager. The Cold War between America and Russia was becoming hot. Gamal Abdel Nasser took over in Egypt and proclaimed his desire to unite the Arab world under his leadership. Radical military regimes, imitating Nasser, seized power in Syria and Iraq. Jordan faced overwhelming internal and external Arab enemies. In 1967 the West Bank was lost to Israel in the Six Day War. Thousands of new Palestinian refugees poured into the remaining East Bank. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established and chose Jordan as its base of operations. By 19970 PLO leader Yasser Arafat threatened to take over Jordan and to turn it into Palestine. 

What saved Hussein and Jordan was the intervention of the Arab Legion. It is this army and this army alone that prevents Jordan from being taken over either by the internal enemy, the Palestinians, or by the external enemy, the Syrians. Ironically, Israel has always been a friendly power, preferring a moderate Hussein to the radical alternatives. But Hussein could not make peace so long as the Palestianian issue was unresolved. 

Along the way Hussein made an almost fatal mistake. Driven by internal public opinion and by the powerful economic ties of Jordan to Iraq, he chose to support Iraq’s ruler, Saddam Hussein, in the Gulf War. His reward for this act of stupidity was the alienation of moderate Arabs, the loss of American alliance, and the sudden return of thousands of disgruntled Palestianians fleeing Kuwait. In the midst of all this trouble the fundamentalists threw down the gauntlet and threatened to win control of Parliament. 

The man who rescued Husseim was, ironically, his enemy, Arafat. By making peace with Israel in 1993, Arafat made it possible for Hussein to offer peace in 1994. The American alliance was restored. The Israelis, for their part, were eager to take what they had been waiting for since 1948. Peace with Jordan, unlike peace with Palestine, was overwhelmingly popular with all Israelis, since no territory had been surrendered. 

Husseins’s Jordan has many problems. It is an artificial country with no fundamental national identity. It is filled with militant Palestinians who hate Hussein and who would prefer to unite the West Bank and the East Bank into a large Palestinian state. It suffers from a rising Muslim fundamentalist movement with connections to fundamentalist movements outside of Jordan. It is experiencing inflation and unemployment, triggered by all the consequences of choosing the wrong side in the Gulf War. 

But good things are happening also. The visitor can see them. Impressive economic development is taking place. Amman has replaced troubled Beirut as the banking center of the Arab world. The Palestinians have developed a prosperous middle class. Now Jewish tourism is stimulating the emergence of striking facilities including kosher hotels for Israeli travelers. The chemical riches of the Dead Sea are being jointly developed by Israel and Jordan. 

What is most striking about Jordan is the emergence of an expanding bourgeoisie committed to business and trade rather than war and reinforced by an educated professional class that is generally wary of religious and political extremism. Some of the best medical facilities in the Arab world are now to be found in once-sleepy Amman. The middle class is Westernized. Women appear bolder in urban Jordan than they do in most other Mulim countries. All of this development supports Hussein and moderation. 

Jordan’s new role as a tourist mecca will accelerate the Westernization process. The land is extraordinarily beautiful, with high mountains and unusual archeological sites such as Petra and Jerash. The ancient trade route that passed through Jordan from Yemen to Damascus was coveted by many conquerors. Canaanites, Greeks, Romans and Nabatean Arabs have left their marks. 

As I crossed back to Israel via the Allenby Bridge, I saw both Israel and Palestinian flags shimmering in the heat of the West Bank. In a few years, travelers will pass through Palestine on their way to Israel. In the interim the Likud opposition to the Rabin government will huff and puff, the Jewish settlers in the West Bank will conduct a thousand violent demonstrations, the terrorists will provide their exploded martyrs, and the Israeli public will express its deep ambivalence. But the withdrawal from the West Bank will continue. An irreversible reality is being created. Between Israel and Jordan, little Palestine is emerging. Neither Israel nor Hussein really wants it. But they will have to learn to live with it and with Arafat. 

Great changes are taking place in the political landscape of the Middle East. Even touristy Bethlehem flies its Palestinian flag, a few miles from Jerusalem. Three years ago peace seemed an illusory hope, and Jordan seemed as far away from Israel as the moon. Today, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan have become neighbors. Their destinies are tied together. Sharing peace will mean sharing water and economic development. Some Israelis will turn to Europe to import foreign, non-Arab workers. But others will see that, in the end, there is no alternative to intimate cooperation. 

The Jordan venture was more than sightseeing. It was an invitation to hope. 

The Rabbi Writes – The Massacre in Beirut

Volume 20, No. 3, October 1982

Rosh Hashana. The massacre in Beirut. Outrage. Shame.

And up all the facts have been revealed. But enough have surfaced to fill our Jewish hearts with guilt. The Defense Minister of the state of Israel has publicly admitted that he allowed the forces of the Christian Lebanese Phalange to pass through Israeli lines and to enter the Palestinian camps of Shatila and Sabra for the purpose of rooting out terrorists. But as every Lebanese child knows, to allow militant Christians, thirsty for revenge for the assasination of their hero leader, into an unarmed Palestinian camp is to invite murder. It is as innocent as putting a snake in a baby’s crib.

How does a humanistic Jew respond to the news that leaders of the Jewish state have sanctioned a holocaust? How do we deal with their initial refusal to allow an impartial investigation? Do we defend our Jewish leaders because they are Jewish? Do we minimize the outrage? Do we plead that greater atrocities have been committed against us? Do we claim that we are not responsible for what Israel allows?

The first thing we do is to dismiss certain harmful illusions.

It’s not my problem – is an illusion.

Whether we like it or not, all Jews are identified with the behavior of the Israeli government. As the most consuming passion of world Jewry, support for Israel cannot be dismissed when it is inconvenient or embarrassing. we cannot proudly identify with all the good achievements, and then in cowardly fashion avoid our obvious association with bad behavior. The world sees Israel and the Jewish people as one.

We buy our own behavior have created this impression. As members of the Jewish family we are implicated in the crime. We therefore have a special responsibility to let the world know how we feel.

Disunity is bad – is an illusion.

Sharon implied that Jewish protestors were giving assistance to the enemies of the Jewish people and that they were guilty of treason and antisemitism. Many of our timid community leaders who were interviewed in the Detroit Free Press obviously feel the same way. But silence is complicity. We who denounced the silence of Germans in World War II who also succumbed to appeals for unity should be hard put to swallow the Sharon argument. Perhaps Amos and Isaiah, who objected policies of their government in the face of external danger were also antisemites.

Jews are the only victims of the double standard – is an illusion.

Norman Podhoretz complains that the world allows the Gentile nations behavior that it refuses the Jews. Atrocities are committed all the time all over the world and are ignored by world opinion. Only when Israel behaves less than noble does moral outrage appear. Yet the reverse is also true. We Jews are so accustomed to being the unique victim that when other people, especially our enemies, are victimized we regard them as imposters, as unworthy of the status which we have for so long grown accustomed to claim for ourselves alone. That arrogance is also a double standard. We cannot bear to think that the Palestinian experience bears any similarity to the Jewish one.

The Holocaust gives us special privileges – is an illusion.

Many Jews including Begin, believe that Jewish suffering in the holocaust was so terrible that it justifies Jewish violence against an uncaring world. How can 500 Palestinians compare to 6 million Jewish dead? Counting casualties become the criterion for outrage. By this standard we still have over 5 million to go before the world has a right to object. No more unattractive self-righteousness can present itself.

What other people think is unimportant – is an illusion.

When hypocrites, like the Russians and the Libyans complain, who cares? But when the dutch, the Danes, and the Swedes – the ardent supporters of Israel in the American Congress and American journalism complain – the Israeli government ought to listen. The self-esteem of a nation depends on the approval of its friends and allies. Will the morale of Israel be elevated by the endorsement of South Africa and Jerry Falwell?

The Israeli military leaders had no motivation to sanction a massacre – is an illusion.

In 1948 the Irgun terrorists attacked the Arab village of Deir Yassin and massacred men, women and children. The report of that massacre spread throughout the Palestinian Arab community creating panic and persuading thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes. In 1980 to a similar incident in Lebanon might persuade thousands of Palestinian refugees in Israeli occupied territories to flee their camps and to cross over the Syrian lines to safety. The convenient exodus of 1948 is the precedent for the aborted exodus of 1948 is the precedent for the aborted exodus of 1982. Both the Phalange and the Israeli military would have regarded the terrified departure of the Palestinians as good riddance.

After we have dismissed the illusions, the second thing we do is to protest. we do what 400,000 Israeli citizens did in Tel Aviv.

We protest the refusal of the leaders of the American Jewish establishment to express moral outrage.

We protest the refusal of the Israeli government to allow an objective investigation of the events until world pressure compelled them to relent.

We protest the leadership of Begin and Sharon who have brought shame to the Jewish people.

We protest, not only to be heard, but also to clear our conscience. Silence is complicity.

Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait

The Jewish Humanist, September 1990

Iraqis invasion of Kuwait came as quite a surprise to the world. No one believed that Saddam Hussein would be mad enough to defy the Western alliance at a time when he could no longer count on the support of the Soviet Union. Was this deed the action of an irrational man, a dreadful miscalculation? Or was it a shrewd plan to expose the weakness of the West and to mobilize the Arab world behind the might of Iraq? Only the unfolding of events will answer that question.

However, the current crises has made us aware of certain important realities that were obscured by the euphoria that followed the death of the Cold War. In the heady atmosphere of the collapse of Communism many naive people came to believe that major wars among nations would disappear and that military budgets would become irrelevant. But the Iraq crises has reawakened us to reality.

What is reality?

The end of the Cold War does not mean the end of war. Natural and regional conflicts will continue throughout the world, especially in the Third World. The manufacture of weapons is still a profitable industry. Small ambitious nations will continue to purchase arms. Some of them will even seek to develop nuclear arms. The former easily divisible world of Soviet-American confrontation may be replaced by much more chaotic and dangerous hostility.

The Middle East is replacing Europe as the setting of future confrontations. Muslim fundamentalism combined with Arab and Persian nationalism is a powerful spark to war. Add the economic importance of oil to the Western world and the intense Muslim resentment of the old Western imperialism and you have the makings of violent terrorism and war.

Despite victory in the Cold War, Western powers are very vulnerable because they are dependent on petroleum from Middle East. Even the trauma the 1973 boycott did little to persuade the Americans, Europe and the Japanese to reduce their reliance on Muslim oil. The fall in oil prices made it convenient to forget the danger. But danger remains. The West cannot allow the oil fields to fall into the hands of unfriendly powers. In a time of crisis, military intervention is unavoidable.

America remains the policeman the world. While the United Nations acted nobly in declaring sanctions against the Iraqis, enforcement of the sanctions been left up to America. Both the Europeans (with the exception of the British) and the Japanese, despite their economic power, continue to use American military might as their shield protector. This parasitic reliance is unfair. It gives America more responsibility t it can afford and more negative criticism than it deserves.

Iraq is the first Arab nation become a formidable military power. The Iraqi army I million strong) is the fourth largest army in the world, right behind Russia, China and America. For a nation of seventeen million people that reality is an amazing achievement. And if you add experience of eight years of war with the Persians you have a tough military force. America will find it difficult to field an equal number of battle-trained soldiers. As with Israel, size is no indication of military might.

In war almost anything is possible. Even enemies can become temporary friends, witness Hitler and Stalin, the Americans and the Russians in World War II. The possible reconciliation of secularist Iraq with fundamentalist Iran is a frightening prospect. Both nations feed on anti-American and anti-Israeli passion. Both nations are opposed to the establishment governments of the Middle East, especially feudal regimes of the Arabian Peninsula like Kuwait. Both nations want to raise the price of oil and humiliate the West through economic warfare. Both nations are in favor of terrorism and extra-legal violence to achieve their aims. If Iran accepts Iraqi peace offers and cooperates with Hussein, the American blockade will become impossible.

The Arab nation is, to a large degree, an illusion. There are deep divisions in the Arab world. These divisions were dramatized by the response to the moderate Arab regimes to the Iraqi invasion. A strong alliance of Egyptians, Moroccans and Syrians merged to offer its support to the endangered Saudis. Regional and personal hostilities are also aggravated by class hostilities. The have-not Arabs, like the Palestinians, are deeply resentful of the affluent Arabs, like the Kuwaitis. Hussein intends to see class warfare as. a weapon to Le-stabilize existing conservative Arab regimes and to mobilize the Arab masses to his side.

Oil and democracy do not necessarily go together. While the political system of the aggressor Iraqis is an internal socialist dictatorship, the political system of the victim Kuwaitis was an anti-democratic feudal monarchy. Defending the integrity of Kuwait, whose boundaries were determined by colonial administrators, is less an exercise in the defense of democracy than in the preservation of Western economics and world order. The endangered Arab states are no more respectable than was South Vietnam.

The crises has restored Egypt to a position of Arab leadership. President Mubarak has emerged as the consummate politician who has mobilized an Arab coalition against Hussein. For a long time Egypt was a pariah state in the Arab world because of its peace settlement with Israel. Now the Iraqi confrontation has put Egypt back in first place. If it succeeds in helping the Americans defeat Iraq, it will return to its former role as the center of the Arab world.

The peace movement in Israel has been dealt an almost fatal blow. The emergence of an Arab foe has revised the notion that Israel is an important American ally. Especially now that the PLO and the Palestinians have sided with the Iraqis, the Americans will be reluctant to push for the creation of a Palestinian state. Arafat, by backing Hussein, has given new strength to the Israeli right wing, who has continuously claimed that Arafat and his cohorts are unreliable and dangerous radicals.

The Jews are again in the center of world controversy. Hussein’s threat to punish Israel if he is attacked ties American military intervention to the defense of Israel. If the confrontation with Iraq is short, Israel will benefit from the victory. If the confrontation is prolonged, American frustration could redirect American hostility to Israel as the major cause of Middle East turmoil and Muslim resentment.

Hopefully, the confrontation will be short. But there are no guarantees.