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From the editorial of The Scribe No. 45, November 1990


In recent weeks, Middle East politics have been shifting like the quicksand of the desert.

Saddam now fancies himself as an Arab and Moslem messiah - a latter-day Nebuchadnezzar - and dreams of standing at the gates of Jerusalem to lead the Jewish people (God forbid) into another captivity in his rebuilt Babylon, as did the other Nebu. 2,558 years ago. (The rape of Lebanon and Kuwait are previews of what Arab extremists have in store for Israel).

Will history repeat itself?

Like a good teacher, History only repeats itself if the lesson is not learned. What then is this lesson that we have to learn?

In the Middle East, the lesson of the last 3,000 years has been that the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of civilisation and the birthplace of monotheistic religions, is too vulnerable to invasion and that if the Jews want to have a lasting presence in that region, they must have a say in the affairs of the whole area. Any attempt to hold only a small part has ended in failure.

Since time immemorial, the Fertile Crescent was never united in freedom but was overrun by various empires, one after another. For 400 years, Ottoman rule brought relative peace and quiet in the region. A feature of their system was the millet concept whereby local communities enjoyed self-rule or autonomy.

After the two World Wars, ill-conceived Arab regimes became the inheritors of the region and have made a mess of it. By denying the Jews and the Kurds their right to a national homeland, by persecuting the Assyrians and Armenians, by trying to swamp the Lebanese Christians, by refusing to deal with the problem of Palestinian Arab refugees, by squandering the immense oil wealth of the region for the last three decades, by Iraq's waging a futile war against Iran for eight years, by Iraq's brutal invasion and destruction of Kuwait, by their use of poison gas and other chemical weapons, by indulging in terrorism and hostage taking - the Arabs have forfeited their right to lead the Middle East. Their greed was their undoing.

The civilized world suddenly woke up to the fact that it is not Zionism but Arab imperialism that poses the real threat to the Middle East and indeed to the whole world.

How then shall the Middle East be run?

The United States and her allies are assembling a motley force of 500,000 men, 2,000 tanks and 800 planes to contain Saddam and, hopefully, to topple him. This effort is proving too costly and threatens the world with recession. Israel has all this force and more, and Israel is permanently there. Israel is most suited to be the trustee of the Middle East. It is dangerous to leave the destiny of the Middle East and possibly of the world exclusively to combinations of Arab or of Moslem countries.

America has asked Israel to keep a low profile in the present crisis but wishes to retain Israel's might in reserve and use it as a last resort if things do not go well for the allies in the coming war.

The consensus among Israelis is that they don't want to suffer one casualty if they can help it. We all prefer to die in bed, but this is the hour of destiny when the whole Middle East will be in the melting pot. Can Israel afford to stay out of the game? Will Israel wait till she is attacked by Saddam?

Israel must choose her own moment to strike at Saddam. She would be amply justified in doing this in view of Saddam's repeated threats. Israel happens to be in a unique position to take the lead in this direction. Secretary of State James Baker has expressed the view that Israel's involvement would not unite the Arabs against America. On the contrary, moderate Arabs would see in Israel's action the value of her presence in the region in defence of justice and freedom.

Moreover, it is generally agreed that once the fighting is over, all foreign forces will leave the area. Israel can then take over policing the region in co-operation with her moderate neighbours.

Jews and Arabs always worked together on the personal level. Such co-operation, given the chance. would also prove successful at the state level. In any case, it has been declared that the security structure envisaged for the Middle East will include Israel, who should be prepared to take the leading role in this future plan.

Pax Israelita can be the key to peace in the Middle East. Having seen the savage behaviour of the Iraqis with Iran, with the Kurds and in Kuwait, moderate Arabs are ready to embrace Israel with open arms.

But before lasting peace can prevail. all the chronic problems of the region have to be resolved. To do that we have to go back to the first World War and eliminate the misdeed, of Lawrence of Arabia and others that gave the Arabs more than they deserved or were entitled to.

The events following the defeat of the Ottoman empire in 1918 have to be reviewed and revised on the following lines:

1) Kuwait's sovereignty and regime to be restored.

2) Iraq to pay compensation for the damage done, Iraq's punishment to fit Saddam's crimes. Saddam's Babylon must be destroyed - an edifice to a bloodthirsty despot.

3) Iraqi leaders and officials to be tried for crimes against humanity and International law.

4) The Iraq/Iran 1975 Algiers border agreement to be confirmed and recognised by the United Nations.

5) Iraq, under a new regime, to get the two disputed islands to relieve her dependence on Shat-al-Arab waterway.

6) Mosul and neighbouring provinces, where Kurds predominate, that were wrested from the Ottoman empire after the 1918 armistice, to be returned to Turkey together with small border areas from Iran and Syria. Autonomy for the 10 million Kurds to be granted in these areas within the Turkish republic. Turkey's good behaviour for the last 70 years and her membership of NATO warrants this confidence.

7) Turkey, in turn, to cede Kars and Ardahan to Soviet Armenia as a token of atonement for the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

8) A reduced, mainly Christian, Lebanon to be created from Junieh, north of Beirut, right down to the border with Israel, with the rest of old Lebanon going to Syria.

9) Jewish historic rights in the Middle East to be recognised and implemented and Israel to be confirmed within her present borders. That area represents only two per mil of Arab lands and with new immigrants coming in, Israel cannot afford to cede any territory. In any case, the Arabs had rejected all partition plans and these have become invalid. Israel went into Gaza as a result of Egypt's aggression and went into the West Bank when, against Israel's advice to King Hussein, Jordan entered the Six-Day War in 1967

10) The problem of the Palestinian Arabs must be solved by the Arabs themselves, just as Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Jordan to become a state for moderate Palestinians, enlarged by a tract from Saudi Arabia. Palestine was partitioned in 1922 and Transjordan became Arab Palestine.

11) King Hussein to become King of Iraq. His grandfather had this
ambition 70 years ago.

12) A declaration that no outside Power shall be allowed to penetrate or interfere in the region.

13) In thus re-shaping the region there will have to be large population transfers to ensure stability and to avoid future conflicts. Iraq has demonstrated this is feasible by the transfer of thousands of Kurds from the north and now by moving thousands of Iraqis to Kuwait.

14) The oil wealth of the Middle East has to be regulated - first, by enlarging OPEC to include not only the exporting countries but also the main oil importing countries; secondly, to keep the oil prices at a steady realistic level; thirdly, only a basic part of that price to go to the countries of origin, with the balance spread wider afield to Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and the new Kurdistan.

In the next century the world will be even more dependent on Arabian oil. In treating oil reserves as an international asset, one is reminded of the Californian gold rush of 1848 when a large and prosperous farming estate was ruined by the sudden discovery of gold on it that brought thousands of
prospectors from far and wide to dig for the precious metal. The owner of the farm went to Washington to seek federal protection but was told that one man's rights cannot be upheld against so many others. He was given instead a substantial pension for the rest of his days.

While it may not be necessary to pension off the Saudi and Kuwaiti rulers and other oil sheikhs, they should not, on the other hand, be allowed to hold the world community to ransom for a commodity that was discovered, is extracted and needed by other countries.

15) In a final settlement between Israel and the neighbouring countries, Jews must be allowed to travel, reside and work anywhere in the region. Israel should be given reparations for the 40 years of senseless wars to frustrate the existence of a Jewish state.

16) Terrorism and hostage-taking must be recognised and treated as acts of war and democratic governments shall gradually replace the despotic regimes in most Middle Eastern countries.

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