Searching for a Solution
Searching for a Solution

By Israel Zwick

In the last few months, a number of my articles have been published in various pro-Israel websites. I have received many favorable comments about my articles but my biggest critic has been my wife, Devorah, whom you already met in a previous article.

“You write nice articles,” Devorah said to me, “ but you are always kvetching. You kvetch about the Arabs, you kvetch about the Europeans, and you kvetch about the UN. When are you going to stop kvetching and come up with a solution?”

“How am I supposed to come up with a solution?” I responded. “Dennis Ross couldn’t find a solution. Either could Bill Clinton or Shimon Peres. Nobody understands Ariel Sharon’s solution. So how could I come up with a solution?”

“Listen,” she said, “you have three Master’s degrees and you’re always studying. You can come up with a solution.”

“But to create a good solution, I would need a lot of data,” I said defensively. “I would need data on geography, demographics, topography, economics, military logistics, and natural resources.”

“You’re a college teacher, you know how to get data.” she countered, “You press a few buttons on your computer and you get all the data you want. Come up with a solution or stop kvetching.”

“It’s not quite so easy, but I’ll tell what I’ll do. The next time we go to Israel to visit our kids, I’ll snoop around a little to get some information.” That satisfied her for a while.

So the next time we went to Israel I embarked on my quest to search for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. My friend Steve lives near the Prime Minister’s residence so I figured that’s a good place to start. We saw a few young soldiers sitting around and chatting so we approached them. They were speaking in Russian, so we figured that wouldn’t work. Suddenly, my friend Steve exclaimed, “There’s one wearing a kipah srugah, let’s try him.”

“That’s great,” I said, “I’m also wearing a kipah srugah, so we’ll get along just fine.”

I approached the young soldier with my broken Hebrew, “Slikha, khayal. Ani rotze…”

The soldier interrupted me with his perfect South African English, “How can I help you?”

“I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question.”

“Is that so, what would you like to ask him?”

“Well, you see, I’m a writer and I’m doing a piece on the Gaza Strip. I would like to know if he could give me a helicopter tour of the Gaza Strip like he did with Colin Powell and Tony Blair.”

“I’d love to help you out, but my radio is beeping and I have to get back to my post.”

Strike One! I figured I’ll try the public library. They have to help me over there. I approached the reference desk and a stunningly attractive Sephardi girl looks up at me and asks, “What can I do for you, sir?” For a moment I forgot what I was there for. When I regained my composure, I said, “I’m writing a piece on the Gaza Strip. Could I see the Mossad and Shabak files on Hamas positions in the area?”

“So you would like to see Mossad files?” she asked politely. Why don’t you give me your name and address and I’ll forward your request directly to Mossad.”

“That would be fine,” I said, “Could I also have your name and address, my friend’s son is looking for a shidduch.” She pressed a button on her desk and a security guard came over to escort me out of the building. Strike Two!

Next, I decided to try the Israeli Supreme Court. I figured that their cases are public domain, so they can’t kick me out. I approached the desk. There was an elderly woman sitting there. I asked her, “Could I see the cases dealing with property rights in the Gaza Strip?”

She looks at me and asks, ”Are you vun uf dose left people who vorry about Palestinian rights? Doesn’t anyvun vorry anymore about Jewish rights?”

She extended her arm to show me where to go. The tattooed number on her arm was clearly visible. I headed in that direction, when suddenly my cell phone rang. Family emergency! While I was gone, my daughter, Sara, was exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning and was rushed by ambulance to the hyperbaric chamber at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

I caught the next bus to Haifa. When I arrived at the hospital, a nurse, wearing a Hijab, came over to greet me. “Your daughter is fine. She is fully conscious. We have to be thankful to Allah that her husband’s Talmud class was suddenly cancelled. He came home early and was able to revive her.”

If you had the patience to read so far, you’re probably wondering, “ When is this guy going to stop babbling and get to the point?”

OK, here’s the point: It’s time for the State Of Israel to make an emphatic statement to the nations of the world: “For 56 years, we have taken in millions of Jews who needed a home because they were annoyed, harassed, tormented, persecuted, and incarcerated in your countries. We absorbed them, housed them, trained them, integrated them, and returned their self-dignity to them. All without the help of any UN agencies. In that same time period, you maintained four generations of Arabs in squalid refugee camps. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on them each year so that they could perpetuate their dream of taking over the 21,000 square kilometers of land that is called the State of Israel. You supported their hatred, their incitement, and their violence, while we became the focus of your enmity and condemnation.

“Now we had enough. We want you to leave us alone. Go attend to the other 35 ethnic conflicts that are going on around the world. Go attend to the widespread abuse of women and children around the world and stop bothering us.

“We’re willing to make you an offer. If the entire world is willing to absorb 3 million Arab “refugees,” we’ll take the remaining million, with conditions. Let us have the Gaza Strip and West Bank as part of the internationally recognized boundaries of the State of Israel. The entire city of Jerusalem will become the internationally recognized capital of the State of Israel. All together, we would still have less than 30,000 square kilometers, about a third of the size of Jordan and a sixth of the size of Syria. Yet, we would still be willing to take in those million Arabs and make them full citizens with full democratic rights. You do the same for the other 3 million. The transfer would be strictly voluntary, with compensation, and without coercion. That would be the end of the refugee problem and the end of the conflict.

If that offer isn’t good enough for you, then sit down with us and make a counter offer. Just stop harassing us and let us go on with our lives. Let us continue to make our valuable contributions to technology, health care, agricultural science, and water conservation. We’re willing to help you, but you have to leave us alone. Stop bothering us, because we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Anyway, I had to tell Devorah that I struck out. But the game’s not over and I’m not giving up.

Israel Zwick

(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.