When I lived in Israel from 1963 to 1965 I was fortunate to see what a semi-socialist state could be like. In fact, I found it so appealing that I finally became a socialist and am one to this day. One of the things I was able to stumble on was a stack of magazines or newspapers in my dentist's office. I read them with gusto for they were from an organization of Arab and Jewish intellectuals that promoted cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. I was sympathetic to both sides and having done my homework before leaving the US to live there during that period (post doctoral training at the Weizmann Institute in biophysics. My mentor was Aharon (Katzir) Katchalsky. I also had interaction with Ephriam, his brother, who later became President.). I also had an understanding of the latent problem that keeping the Palestinians as refugees would fester. The thing that impressed me at that time was the obscurity of the publications and the ideas they contained about why the conflict was not being resolved and what might be the result if it were. Today this appeared on face book:Netanyahu Emphasis on War Distracts Attention from Fading Israeli Economy and it awakened those memories. This was a link of that one: 'Israel falling behind Western living standards' from the Jerusalem Post. Read on below and I will try to piece together the argument I read back then from my 76 year old's bad memory.
First let me tell you the crux of their argument as I remember it. The two cold war giants, the US and the USSR were in a position to work toward a peaceful cooperation between Israel and the Arabs. They did not do so and even fueled the flames because economically it would not be to their advantage to see the Middle East come to life as a competitor.
The publication had articles about the latent economic potential lying dormant while the factions were at each other's throats. The whole idea was based on the combined agricultural and light industrial potential that was latent. They made a good case I thought and surely the two super powers were acting like they did not want peace.
One of the contributors and a member of whatever alliance this was was Martin Buber whose I and Thou was one of my favorites back then.
Martin BuberI sure wish he and the others were alive now because, besides being able to say "I told you so" they would be voices of reason in the shouting and screaming we hear now.
Title: Author and Philosopher
Position: Pro One Bi-National State to the question "What are the solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?"
"We [the Ichud Association] describe our program as that of a bi-national state -- that is, we aim at a social structure based on the reality of two peoples living together... The road to be pursued is that of an agreement between the two nations -- naturally also taking into account the productive participation of smaller national groups -- an agreement which, in our opinion, would lead to Jewish-Arab cooperation in the revival of the Middle East, with the Jewish partner concentrated in a strong settlement in Palestine. This cooperation, though necessarily starting out from economic premises, will allow development in accordance with an all-embracing cultural perspective and on the basis of a feeling of at-oneness, tending to result in a new form of society."
According to Sasson Sofer, writing in Zionism and the Foundations of Israeli Diplomacy (1998): "Ihud constituted the first instance in the history of Israel's politics of what happens when intellectuals seek to propose a compromise solution in the course of a violent national conflict. It demonstrated their organisational weakness and the fact that their political influence was marginal. Ihud presages the fate which was to befall Israel's intelligentsia whenever it approached the white-hot heart of the Israel-Arab conflict and sought to join in the political fray."This is old stuff but today's reports on the economic problems of Israel coupled with the obvious real interests of the US in Middle East oil from the beginning makes a new look at the benefits of cooperation seem greatly needed.
The power of the world has been exercised through the United Nations and the US has reacted negatively. The Cold War is over and we got so much of what we wanted. Is it the old Chinese curse (pun intended) "May you get your wish".?
We are living in a time where our energy and thinking power need to be directed at the well being of future generations for a multitude of very serious reasons. How do we end the automatic systemic course we are on? These are not isolated issues. We must change. I hope the change will begin because we see the errors we have made rather than because everything goes out of control. I do not envy the young. I have had a good life. It has clearly been at the expense of much of the world. I have fought and lost too many times. It is odd to look back to my days in Israel and then to see where things have gone. I would have never predicted it could have turned out this way.
We are a political group and we are concerned about the future yet we are locked into a system that has us totally under control and we are blind to that. Will we go on this way until it is too late? I hope not. For the sake of the young and future generations I hope not!