If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem: American Jews and the State of Israel

By Robert Silverberg | Go to book overview
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TEN
The Unending War

THE LONG political struggle to create a Jewish homeland in the Near East has given way to what promises to be an even longer military struggle to insure that homeland's survival. The tensions between Israel and the Arab world seem irremovable, because they are fundamentally irrational. This is not a quarrel that can be settled by an appeal to sweet reason.

There were many opportunities for settlement in the past, but all of them were lost. There was no enmity between Arab and Jew under Turkish rule. More enlightened planning in 1918 could have brought forth a binational Palestine capable of sustaining several million Zionists in the midst of the Arabs. But the conflicting imperialisms of Great Britain and France doomed that hope. It might yet have been possible to evolve some kind of shared Palestine, or else some peaceful and equitable partition, but for the alternating and sometimes simultaneous intransigeances of the Arabs and the Zionists. Eventually a point was reached where emotions prevailed over logic, and the Palestinian problem was settled by force of arms. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled their homes and could not return.

Even after 1948 a kind of peace was available. The Arab leaders could have swallowed their bitterness, accepted Israel's existence as a fait accompli, and come to terms of some sort with the Zionist state. (The 8,000 square miles occupied by the state of Israel are not at all vital to Arab interests, and the Arab refugees from Palestine--now numbering more than a million--could easily have been absorbed into the neighboring lands.) Despite its oil, the Arab world is not so wealthy that it can afford to squander re

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If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem: American Jews and the State of Israel
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