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MIDDLE EAST: Dream and Reality

Dreams of a better society often crash of the rocks of reality. It is easy to blame the dreamers, who were trying to save society from existing horrors. This is true of Rousseau and Voltaire, whom many blamed for the French Revolution and its bloodshed,, and of the French idealists who inspired Marx and through him Russian Bolsheviks. Fidel Castro was probably sincere when he wrote History will absolve me.

The dreamer behind the Middle East chaos was Theodor Herzl, a Hungarian Jew. To understand the problem of the European Jews. we must remember that, while German Jews had been integrated into German society, the Eastern Jews were still a society apart, scorned by German Jews and Eastern society alike. Herzl was a newspaper correspondent. in Paris, where the Dreyfus case convinced him that assimilation was impossible. In The Jewish State (1896) he advocated the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. That is the origin of the state of Israel, which most Western Jews opposed.

In 1902 he published a novel about it entitled Altneuland. Today no one reads either book. He foresaw a happy Jewish community co-existing with Palestinians in the Turkish empire.How idealistic and how wrong! Harry Truman shared these illusions, despite the warnings of the State Department and the Foreign Office. Modern society, which did not witness the Holocaust, see the David story in reverse: Palestinian kids throwing rocks at heavily armed Israeli soldiers. The fight over the Temple Mount is like two blind men fighting over a pair of glasses. There is only one solution, other than the internationalization of Jerusalem: arrange a soccer match between Israelis and Palestinians. with an umpire named by the UN.

Ronald Hilton - 1/03/01