The $50,000 Solution
The $50,000 Solution


By Israel Zwick

The following article presents the history, issues, and proposed solutions for the Arab-Israeli conflict in a concise, light, and readable format. It is useful as an educational tool to stimulate thought and discussion.

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King Arik was the ruler of a country that was only a tiny sliver of land, barely 21,000 sq. km. It was so small that it was hardly visible on a map of the region. Though small in size, the Land of Israel was great in accomplishments. It was a recognized leader in science research, health care, military technology, agricultural science, and water conservation. It was often described as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” The Bible in Deuteronomy also referred to the Land of Israel as “A land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey.” For seven months of the year, the land was blessed with warm weather and clear, blue skies. The five cooler, rainy months enabled the land to bring forth an abundance of crops. So much was harvested that the Land of Israel was able to export produce to much larger countries far away. The lush grapes and fruit that were grown were used to make fine wines and liqueurs that were known the world over.

Unfortunately, all was not well with the Land of Israel. It was surrounded by vicious enemies: twenty Arab-Muslim countries with 600 times the land mass and 50 times the population of the tiny Land of Israel. These Arab countries made repeated efforts to destroy and conquer little Israel, but failed each time. Yet, they were still determined to destroy Israel no matter how long it would take and by whatever means available. They would employ a combination of military, economic, demographic, and diplomatic methods to weaken the fortitude of the people of Israel and force them to flee the country. The turbulent conflict had been going on for 60 years and showed no signs of abating.

The people of Israel were weary of the conflict. They were worn from the burden of heavy taxes, military duty, security searches, and repeated terrorist attacks that destroyed thousands of innocent lives. They cried out to King Arik, “We can’t take this anymore, we need peace. We’re willing to make sacrifices and painful concessions, but bring us peace. We’re weary of war, death, destruction, and economic hardships.”

One night, King Arik couldn’t sleep. He was troubled by the cries from his people. Not only were there conflicts with the Arabs, but there were conflicts within the people: religious against secular, right against left, moderates against extremists. So King Arik called in his attendant to read him a story that would relax him. The attendant chose to read about Sherlock Holmes and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” After hearing the story, King Arik got up excitedly and called to his attendant, “Elya, get Silvan in here. I want him to call Tony to get this fellow Holmes over here. I think he can help me.”

So the next morning, the famed British sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, boarded an El Al plane en route to the Land of Israel. Upon arriving at the King’s palace in Jerusalem, Holmes got right to work. He approached King Arik and said, “First, I would like to thank you for that First Class airline ticket that you sent me. It sure beats the horses and buggies that I used when I started out in this business over 100 years ago. Now, I beg that you lay before me everything that may help me in forming an opinion upon this matter.” So King Arik told him of his problems and worries.

“I was born and raised in this wonderful land. I joined the military underground before independence when I was only 14 years old. That began a long and distinguished career as a military commander and strategist. I was involved with every major battle that our country fought with the Arabs. After 25 years of service, I retired from the military in 1973 with the rank of Major-General. Then I began my diplomatic career. I held a number of important and successful positions in the government until the people made me King in 2001. Now I am reaching the end of my days. I am getting old and am grossly overweight. When I go to the other world to meet my friends David, Golda, Moshe, Menahem, and Yitzhak, I want to be able to tell them that I finally brought peace to our land. But the people are now against me. They are calling me a traitor and asking for my resignation. There are even threats of assassination. All my life, I was defending the lives of Jews, now for the first time, security steps are taken to protect me from Jews. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me, Holmes?”

“I think I can, but first I need to search for clues. I’ll need some basic maps and geography texts, like you use in your high schools. I would also like to tour the territories in YESHA.”

“That will be fine,” responded Arik, “Why don’t you rest here tonight and everything you need will be ready for you tomorrow morning. An armored car, driver, and military escort will be at your disposal.”

After three days of searching for clues, Sherlock Holmes returned to King Arik. The King was eagerly awaiting his arrival, “So Holmes, can you help me with my problems?”

“I think I understand your difficulties, my dear Arik, and I’ll try to help you, but this is by far my most difficult case.”

“I’m willing to entertain any reasonable suggestion. The internal turmoil is becoming unbearable. I must find a solution.”

“First, my dear Arik, you must understand the problem.”

“What do you mean? I have 60 years of experience with the Israeli military and government. I know this country inside out. No one knows it better than me.”

“You may be a skilled military strategist and shrewd diplomat, but you’re a poor educator. Your people don’t know the facts, that’s why they’re against you. Ask your young people if they can list the accomplishments of Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Menahem Begin, or Abba Eban. You’ll be surprised at the results. ”

“But my country has one of the finest educational systems. It has been widely acclaimed.”

“My dear Arik, the young people today aren’t getting their information the way we did when we grew up. Today you have to compete with weblogs, I-pods, MP3’s, podcasts, Blackberry’s, PDA’s, and video clips sent from cell phones. They’re being influenced by misinformation from all over the world, including your enemies. If you recall my “Adventure of the Speckled Band,” the enemy was a member of the same household and the weapon was a snake. You have a similar problem. You have enemies within your own people who will use all kinds of sly and devious tricks to make you do things that are contrary to the best interests of your country.”

“I know that, but what can I do about it?”

“First you have to get out the facts so that your people can speak with one voice. They have to be ‘one people, with one heart.’ Doesn’t your Torah tell you repeatedly that you have to teach your children to recall their history? Doesn’t Pirkei Avos say that to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from? Your people don’t know the truth, they’re speaking out of ignorance.”

“How can I rectify that?”

“As King Solomon said so wisely, ‘there is a time for every purpose under heaven.’ In your case, there is a time to be a wily diplomat and a time to be truthful. The people need to realize that an independent Arab state in the YESHA territories would be an untenable situation. These disjointed areas total less than 6000 sq. km, less than one-third the size of the rest of Israel. You can’t have two hostile mini-states with separate passports, currency, and security forces within such a small area. Take a look at those two friendly giants, the USA and Canada. In general, they have very good relationships. Yet, they are always squabbling about some regional issue or differences in foreign policy. Border towns such as Buffalo, Niagara, and Toronto have to put up with the nuisance of border security and different currencies. It would be much worse with a sovereign Arab state in YESHA. There would be constant friction and conflict over issues such as security, commerce, tourism, transportation, utilities, and water rights. It could never work.”

“I know that. That’s why I proposed my disengagement plan, to stall or prevent the establishment of such an entity.”

“But that’s an illusion as well,” Holmes explained. “You know better than anyone else what will happen as soon as IDF leaves the area. The Gaza Strip will become open to terrorist infiltration by land, sea, and air. They won’t have to dig smuggling tunnels anymore; they could just bring in materials and people by truck from Egypt. You couldn’t possibly monitor every single plane, boat, and truck coming in from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. It would be a disaster.”

“If they resort to terrorism, then I’ll just bring out my best fighter pilots and commando units and finish them off once and for all.”

“While it may come to that, you would want to avoid it. War means death and destruction for both sides. You don’t need Al-Jazeera showing videos of dead Arabs lying in pools of blood and women wailing over the loss of their sons and husbands. Also, as Donald Rumsfeld learned belatedly, ’war has known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.’ You never know exactly what is going to happen.”

“Then what’s left for me to do”?

“First you have to shatter this myth of the Palestinian people and occupied Palestinian lands. The Arabs living in the YESHA territories are not indigenous to those lands. In the 1940’s those were mostly barren lands. Their grandfathers came to British mandatory Palestine in the 1940’s from other Arab countries to seek economic opportunities. Then they fled to Gaza and the Judean Hills at the outbreak of war in 1948. They have no more claim to that area than your people do.”

“So what can I do to teach people the truth about the myth of the Palestinians?”

“The Arab population density in YESHA needs to be reduced. It is among the highest in the world and contributes to the strife. You need to send out emissaries to the YESHA provinces and proclaim that you will offer $50,000 to any Arab household that will move to another country of their choice. For the same $1 billion that it will cost you to evacuate 2000 Jewish families, you can get rid of 20,000 Arab households.”

“But what if they are threatened and intimidated by the terrorist groups and Arab countries not to accept the offer.”

“That’s a real possibility. Then you’ll have evidence that they are not really interested in the ‘humanitarian rights of the Palestinian people’ they’re only interested in destroying Israel by demographic means.”

“What if the opposite happens and 100,000 Arab families accept my offer. Where I am going to get $5 billion from and who will take them in?”

“That would be great, just what you need. When you have 100,000 acceptances, you can go the same countries that are donating hundreds of millions to UNRWA and tell them that if they are really interested in helping these Arabs they will finance and assist with their voluntary relocation to other Arab countries. If they refuse, it will reveal their hypocrisy and anti-semitism.”

“I can try it, but I’m not too optimistic that it will work.”

“Listen, my dear Arik, I told you that this was my most difficult case. I can’t give you any guarantees. But I do have a little good news for you. You don’t have to buy me a return ticket to England. Great Britain is no longer the same as when I grew up. I’ve decided to stay here. After 100 years in this business, I’ve finally concluded that it is time to retire. I found myself a nice little retirement community in Netanya. I was never married, but I fell in love with this country. Am Yisroel Chai!”



Israel Zwick
israel.zwick@earthlink.net

(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC

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

Reprinted by permission.