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Thursday, December 25, 2003

Dinner with Daniel

Solly Ezekial recently attended a dinner party with Middle East expert, Daniel Pipes. Here are his thoughts on the situation between Israel and the Palestinians:

The core of the problem, he said, is that the Palestinians still haven't given up on their dream of destroying Israel (no surprise there). He also said that if you graph Palestinian optimism that Israel can be destroyed as a function of time, between 1948 and 1993 it was dropping. It hadn't dropped to zero, but it was dropping. In 1993, with Oslo, the Palestinians once again started getting more optimistic that they could destroy Israel. Three years ago, when Ariel Sharon started getting tough with the Palestinians again, that optimism once again started to fade. Between 1993 and 2000 the diplomats managed to undo most of what the military had accomplished in the years since 1948; the big mistake of Oslo was that the Israelis assumed the Palestinians had already given up on their dream of destroying Israel.

On parallels between Islamic anti-Semitism today and the German anti-Semitism of the 1930s:

I asked him about parallels between the state of Islamic anti-Semitism today and the German anti-Semitism of the 1930s, and about what sort of shock it might take to jar the Muslim world out of this anti-Semitic groupthink. He said that the parallel to 1930s Germany was apt: in the 1930s the German leadership was preparing the German public for the death camps, while in the present day the Muslim leadership is preparing the Muslim people for a nuclear attack on Israel.

On causes for optimism:

This discussion had started to get awfully maudlin, and someone asked him whether there was any cause for optimism in all this. He said that the one bright spot in all this is Iran. Iran was the first nation to be governed by militant Islam, and the people there are about ready to overthrow the government because of it. If the rest of the Muslim world sees that, it would help a great deal. The real question is whether the revolution will occur before Iran finishes its first nuclear weapons.

Another person asked whether a peace between Israel and the Palestinians might trigger a larger peace with the rest of the Arab world. Pipes said that, in his opinion, the Arab world sees the Palestinians as their proxy in the battle with Israel, and if the Palestinians were to reconcile with Israel it's very difficult to see who in the Arab world would bother to continue the fight. So that's some cause for optimism, too.

There is always hope! Here's to praying for a better future.