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Almost all foreign policy analysis is based on "problem solving." There is a "problem" posed and an attempt is made to offer a solution to this problem. Thus, there is an "Arab-Israeli" conflict problem, an Iran nuclear development problem, and an Iraq problem, and policies and attitudes are based on solutions to these problems.

This approach incorporates a naive misunderstanding of history and foreign relations and how they work. It generates a Messianic fallacy. It creates the delusion that once we get past the time of troubles caused by this "problem" there will be a new reality, in which the laws of history will be suspended, and everything will be perfect. It generates plans for tomorrow that fail to take into account the day after tomorrow.

Foreign policy and national goals cannot be based on such Messianism, either in the religious or secular sense. History is a continuous process. It does not end. Ben-Gurion noted that the important thing about Meshiach (Messiah in Hebrew) is the anticipation of his arrival. The arrival would be an anti-climax. For forty-five years, America lived with the myth of solving the USSR problem. Once the USSR problem was solved, it was thought everything would be OK. Then the USSR problem solved itself, the cold war ended, and many people were surprised to find out that not everything was OK; history had gone on to pose a different set of problems and challenges. In real life, the prince and princess did not live happily ever after. They got married, they had children. They had big fights because the prince wouldn't let the princess practice her profession and the princess snored and put on weight. Eventually they died and their children ruled instead, or else there was a revolution perhaps.

There is no "solution," not because the situation is hopeless, but because every situation will continue to continue and will evolve, based on geopolitical realities, some of which we can create or influence, while others are beyond our control and still others are beyond human control. We cannot plan as if the Messiah is coming and the end of days is in the offing. Some religious sects do that, but they are sorely disappointed by events. The Messiah, if there is one, will come when and if he or she is good and ready and not before. It is not our department.

In every generation or so there is a fool who thinks that history or inventions or ideology or wars are coming to an end, but it isn't going to happen. Life and civilization and war and power struggles will continue in the Middle East and elsewhere as they have continued for over 5,000 of history -- recorded and otherwise -- that have passed since people started building cities and engaging in agriculture.

Understanding this basic property of history and foreign relations does away with many misconceptions. Signing a peace treaty will not put an end to history or to all problems. Contrary to the conventional "wisdom" of US Middle East diplomacy, peace between Israel and the Arabs is not the key to "solving" the Middle East "problem." There is no key. Peace between Israel and the Arabs will not make the desert bloom, will not unseat repressive regimes or grant literacy and prosperity and democratic rights to the people of the Middle East. It won't change the number of barchash flies or the smell of camel dung either. Peace, if it ever comes, will only be an interlude before another war and may come to be viewed as the cause of that war. Saying "there is no military solution" is telling only half the truth. There is no solution at all in the sense that listeners often understand the word "solution."

Equally, "solutions" offered by Israeli hawks are not going to bring salvation either. Suppose that on Monday Israel transfers all the Palestinians out of its territory as some dream of doing. What happens on Tuesday? Will the Mediterranean ocean turn into pink lemonade and the lion lie down with the lamb, or will there be a lot of people in Arab countries and elsewhere who are very angry at Israel? The same is true of the idea that "there is only a military solution." What could this solution be? Let's say that on Monday there is the biggest war that there ever was in the Middle East, and Israel absolutely defeats the Palestinians and Arab states. We already did that twice - in 1948 and in 1967. But after Monday came Tuesday, and it turned out that the Messiah didn't show up on Tuesday.

We Israelis live in a dangerous neighborhood. We occupy a prime bit of beach front property that is in the way of every desert empire that wants an outlet to the sea, and of every empire that seeks to unite north-east Mediterranean with south-east Mediterranean. This has been true since before Ramesses II fought the Hittites at Kadesh over three thousand years ago, and it will be true when the pyramids have sunk into the sand and there is a shopping center in place of the Sphinx. Ancient Israel existed as an independent state only when neighboring countries were weak.

Anybody who thinks that they can make peace for all times or secure Israel's future either by keeping territories and making war, or by giving them up and signing a bit of paper is childish. "Bechol dor vador omdim aleinu lechaloteinu" - In every generation someone is going to be trying to wipe us out. It isn't personal. That's the way the world works. The Armenians, Greeks, Chechens, Tatars, Czechs and Poles among others have had similar problems, as did the Carthaginians, Lydians, Thracians and others. Some, like the British, were luckier, while others, like the ancient Gauls, and the natives of the American continent, were less fortunate.

Understanding the obvious fact that history is not going to stop has profound implications not only for policy makers, but for ideological thinkers as well. Of the great ideologies of the twentieth century, only Zionism has really proven successful. It is a mistake however, to think that Zionism has "fulfilled its goal" in having created the state of Israel, and that thereafter, the Jewish people should have reached "salvation" and should be living happily ever after. The salvation of the Jewish people is a continuous process. The "post-Zionist" era could begin only after there was no more Jewish people or if the Messiah comes.

Both ideologues and policy makers must stop thinking in terms of "solutions" and start thinking in terms of directions, values and priorities. What is important is not to find a "solution" for tomorrow, but to take a direction and a course of action that will allow Israel and the Jewish people to cope with the problems that are sure to arise the day after tomorrow and the day after that.

It follows that we must explore the guiding philosophy and general course of action first, and then derive from that the sort of policies that will serve the long term goals of Zionism, the state of Israel and the Jewish people. More about that in articles to follow.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000317.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

Why this year was the lowest immigration year ?
The answer is simple.
Jews in diaspora hate to see Israel weak.
Jews in America, Canada, South America has always though about Israel as a possible home in the future, and many indeed had plans to move. But the circumstances have forced all these plans to erase. First it was a failed 1973 War. Yes, it was a failed war. Luckily to Israel, the jewish mind still prevailed.
As the years went by, the promisses of
"security" and "peace" turned into election slogans. There was not even the slightest truth about security and impossible "peace". But the political crooks kept fooling Israelis, brainwashing them with the "bright" "future" and the "coming peace" with arabs who suddenly started calling themself "palestinians". Israelis even started to believe lies that the Left with its "PeaceNow" franchise were feeding them about "palestinians" , about a future "palestate", with illusions of "brotherhood".
A very strange image began to develop about the Left. The Left began to look like it is representing more "palestinians", and not its own people.
The Left was and is going out of its way to please everybody and anybody, but Israelis. The Left is begging abass and his killer gangs to talk about "peace".
Abass keeps repeating again and again that its only goal is to destroy Israel.
But Israeli political bigots pretend not to hear that. And they keep begging for "peace" "summits".
When suicide murders were at their pick and hundreds of israelis were being killed every week, Sharon kept issuing empty threat one after another. What did he do to protect Israelis ?
Not only did he do nothing, he warned his pal arafat about coming single fighter jet strike at an empty building.
The LIES are everywhere. Israeli media keeps feeding these lies to the Israelis, who begin to realize how the country is screwed up by their corrupted "leaders". So, nobody cares anymore.
The result of all this we saw in Lebanon last summer. IDF is not the same legendary IDF. The fighters are not the same as were 30-40-50 years ago.
The Left is turning Israel into "multicultural" euro colony of gays, of russian mobsters and other criminals.
So, here is the answer.
Unless the Left is annihilated to the core and its socio-nazi ideology erased from Israel's face, not only will be no immigration, but Israel will not survive as a Jewish state by 2020.
The only solution is to turn the clock back and to turn Israel to what it used to be, to what Herzl wanted it to be - A Zionist True Jewish Nation, based on Jewish Traditions, on True Jewish Culture, with a Torah being a corner stone and a heart of the nation.

Z.Snappir, Friday, December 29th

Who could disagree with this analysis? Looking too far into the future is pointless anyway, not least because too many people do the looking. Short-term 'solutions' are always possible, but what works next week may not work the week after. Nevertheless, there are things for which we may plan, goals that we may at least aspire to reach. A final military solution is, as you say, impossible; but putting Hizbullah and Hamas out of action, depriving Iran of nuclear weapons capability, or deterring Syria and Egypt from military action would all give a breathing space within which other short-term solutions could help pave the way towards some sort of agreement with the PA. This, in turn, might enable the Palestinians to get a taste of the prosperity peace would bring, and make them a lot less willing to embrace an absolutist position in future. Prosperity of some degree might lay a basis for greater secularization in the new Palestinian state, making it less likely that the Hamas/Hizbullah 'solution' would continue its appeal. It's like treating some illnesses: there may not be a 'cure', but a lot of palliative measures and time can make life a whole lot better for many sufferers. I'm personally convinced that the secularization of ME societies can take us a long way from the current religiously-based hatred for Israel and replace it with a more rational nationalist opposition (as existed before). But it won't be easy to achieve, if only because secularizing forces have been at work in the ME since the 19th century and have still made few inroads. Nevertheless, there has to be growing pressure for a reformation, as Muslim countries watch pretty well all other societies sail past them in the prosperity race. If Western (including Israeli) policy is to foster secular reform, a tipping-point may be reached where backward-looking Salafi attitudes may start to be replaced by moderrnizing ones. But if anyone thinks this will only be a matter of years, they are wide of the mark. A century more at least, or at least until the oil really starts to run out.

Denis MacEoin, Thursday, December 28th

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