Dr. Farooq's Study Resource Page
 

Excerpts from
The Jewish Paradox

[New York: Fred Jordan Books, 1978]

Dr. Farooq' comments: 
Nahum Goldmann and his thoughts are simply fascinating. He was not just a Zionist, but also a leading Zionist leader. If there were more visionary and conscientious statesman like him, the world could be different. Indeed, for any future peace, people like him would still be needed. This book and his other works are highly recommended.


Nahum Goldmann

Nahum Goldmann is Founder President of the World Jewish Congress and served as President from 1951 to 1977. He is former President of the World Zionist Organization and of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. He was one of the pivotal figures in the Zionist Movement leading to the creation of the state of Israel and, who continued to remain influential in the global politics, involving Israel, without holding any political office in Israel. He was known as a "statesman without a state." His role and influence is not easy to fully appreciate without some knowledge about his powerful position as an independent-minded, conscientious voice in the Zionist movement.


Leon Abramowicz on Nahum Goldmann in the intro:

“By giving priority to the spiritual development which alone, in his [Goldmann’s] view, is capable of assuring the continuity of Judaism and a special place among the nations for a Jewish state, he is in opposition to the rulers of Israel who, preoccupied by the state of war, have exaggerated the importance of military power.” [Intro to The Jewish Paradox by Leon Abramowicz, p. 4]

Jewish people: Unique and Paradoxical

"To begin with the collective subject, let me say that in my opinion the Jewish people is the most paradoxical in the world. It is not better than others, or worse, but unique and different - by virtue of its structure, history, destiny and character - from all other peoples, and paradoxical in its contradictions." [p. 7]

"The Jews are the most separatist people in the world. There belief in the notion of the chosen people is the basis of their entire religion. All down the centuries the Jews have intensified their separation from the non-Jewish world; they have rejected, and still do reject, mixed marriages; they have put up one wall after another to protect their existence as a people apart, and have built their ghettos with their own hands, from the shtetl of Eastern Europe to the mellah of Morocco. Yet at the very same time they count as the most universalist people in the world on the level of religion: ..." [p. 8] 

Religion can't be imposed

"You can make a child perform a particular action, but you cannot force him to pray. From that day onward I instinctively understood that religion had to be voluntary, or else it meant nothing." [p. 11]

Jewish superiority complex

"One of the great phenomena of Jewish psychology, which goes a long way towards explaining the extraordinary endurance of our people despite two thousand years of dispersion, lies in having created a thoroughly ingenious defence mechanism against the politico-economic situation acting upon them, against persecution and exile. This mechanism can be described in a few words: the Jews of Visznevo we lived in a rural setting, and most of my grandfather's patients were peasants. Every Jew felt ten or a hundred times the superior of these lowly tillers of the soiled: he was cultured, learned Hebrew, knew Bible, studied the Talmud - in other words he knew that he stood head and shoulders above these illiterates." [pp. 12-13]

The "Guaranteed-Paradise" Syndrome

"So the shtetl of Viscnevo did not live a life of sadness or despair; it was happy to take part in the Sabbath and the religious holidays of the community from which it drew new vigour each time, since every Jew knew then that he would be going to Paradise. He did not believe: he knew!" [p. 13]

Pressure from a powerful Zionist American, Stephen Wise, on the American government.

 “Before Yalta Roosevelt came under pressure from American Jews who wanted him to accept the idea of participation. ... [after exchange with Ibn Saud and learning about the vehement rejection, Wise was asked] ‘So how could you live there as a tiny minority among Arab fanatics?’ Roosevelt concluded. ‘They would exterminate you.” Wise was at a loss, and Roosevelt went on: ‘Stephen, I’m going to ask you a personal question: you are a rabbi, with religious and moral obligations. Will you take the responsibility of getting millions of Jews killed if you do eventually get there (i.e., have the state of Israel)?’ Wise was shaken, but stated that he stood by the official programme of American Jewry. Then Roosevelt concluded: ‘I agree that the majority of Jews want partition. But I’m warning you, you may be committing a crime.’ [Goldmann, Paradox, p. 32]

The threat of Zionist terrorism

"As I say, Truman was a modest man and left international policy to Acheson [the Secretary of State]. If he had not consented to partition, Truman would never have given the go-ahead by himself. Now the Secretary of State's main argument was: 'For decades you will not have peace and you will be risking catastrophe, because the American will not be able to support you against the Arabs for ever.'

I replied: 'Listen, Mr. Acheson, I'm talking to you now not as a Jew but as an American. I am an American citizen. Right, let's say you refuse partition. What will happen? Terrorism will gain ground in Israel. The Jews will not accept the immigration ban; I won't accept it myself. Half a million Jewish refugees who have survived Nazism are living in the accursed land of Germany. Their one wish is to leave that country where they are still living in camps. Are you ready to receive them in America? No. In other countries? No. Then Menachem Begin, the extreme rightist leader, will take power. I personally will not accede to his policy of terror, any more than Weizmann will, but the extremists will be dominant ... What will be your attitude then? When the Jewish terrorists are killing the British will you take a stand against the British? And when the British are killing Jews, where will you be?' " [pp. 34-35]

The Relationship between America and Hitler [1935]

"From every side I had been hearing people say that the good relations between America and  Hitler must not be disturbed; the French were talking appeasement, and so on and on." [pp. 42-43]

Israeli self-centeredness

"My opinion of the Arab problem has always gone counter to the majority. I have never hesitated to express my view of the question when I though it necessary, so I fully understand why I in my turn have critics. I once told Maurice Couve de Murville that on that particular ground I felt more goy than Jew: unlike most Israelis I am neither fanatical, nor pig-headed, nor convinced that I am always right. I am tolerant, and do not exaggerate the importance either of problems or of my own activities.

The Israelis have the great weakness of thinking that the whole world revolves around them. ...

During a pretty lively discussion I once told Ben Gurion that he considered problems from the viewpoint of Sde Boker, his little kibbutz, whereas I saw them from a plane flying twelve thousand metres high. It is a different approach.

The Israelis suffer from this short-term policy. They feel that every least thing is dreadfully important, and it makes them ill. Stomach ulcers are a typically Jewish complaint. They are always irritated, excited or in a passion. Their discussions are always exaggerated. None of that has any correspondence with my own temperament, and from that angle I am something of an odd man out." [pp. 56-57]


Israel's failure to see the other side

"What the Israeli negotiators have to learn is that no one is ever altogether right. Absolute situations do not exist, because the absolute is impossible to reach. When the Israelis negotiate they are so sure of their own rights that they overlook those of the Arabs, thereby weakening their own positions in the eyes of the world." [p. 63]


Israel's propaganda-mania

[T]he Israelis overestimate the importance of propaganda and ‘public relations’. The Israeli press keeps saying: ‘Our propaganda is badly handled, we have a poor image’, and so forth. I am familiar with the subject, since the World Zionist Organization has spent millions of dollars on propaganda. Well, I regret that, because it is worth very little. The decisive factor to influence world opinion is the character of Israel’s policies, and if those policies are criticized by the majority of the states, the best propaganda is helpless. The Israelis have inherited this misjudgement and this infatuation for slogans from the Americans. In the United States, everything is sold by what they call ‘Madison Avenue’ methods, from the street where their biggest advertising firms are based. This technique may be terrific for launching a brand of soap or toothpaste, or even a new newspaper, but not when it comes to disseminating a political idea by distorting it.” [p. 63]

Noble and Revolutionary Challenge for the younger Israeli generation

"So the problem consists in finding new challenges for them, and I am very ready to suggest one: to make Israel different from what it is today. To build an Israel which is not content with having the best army in the Near East, spending most of its resources on the acquisition of new armaments, and being proud of winning yet another war which solves nothing and in any case may end in disaster. To build an Israel which concentrates instead on religious, cultural and social creativity. The new Jewish youth must become revolutionary. World Jewry, inspired by an Israel of peace and justice, must become a revolutionary movement. Not with barricades, bombs and terrorists, but as a champion of the war against poverty, illiteracy and inequality, for the abolition of the sovereign state, and for peace.

That is what would give new meaning to the sufferings of the Jewish people. After all, the Jews could have lived quite happily if they had had themselves baptized and renounced their condition." [pp. 67-68]

The Golden Rule: Worth remembering for Israelis (and everyone else)

"There is a story about a pagan who wanted to become Jewish. He stops the great Talmudist Hillel in the street and asks him straight out: 'What is the essence of Judaism?' And Hillel at one replies: 'Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.' I am no Hillel, but if someone were to ask me the meaning of Judaism I would answer that it was nonconformism. ..." [p. 70]

 

Israel not following the Golden Rule

"Since emancipation we have been becoming a more and more conformist people. The Jews follow the opinion of the majority; they support dictatorships if they are not antisemitic; they made Israel a state like all the rest. But a conformist people has nothing to offer to its young idealists; it must be contented with the sort of prosaic young generation whose only aims are to live well, make love and make money. ...

 
So it seems to me that the only solution is to create a young generation which is nonconformist, revolutionary and Jewish all at one. The success of that synthesis depends very much on Israel, which is taking the opposite attitude today, but without which nothing can be done in the Diaspora. It is all a function of peace. War is ruinous: it ruins the economy of Israel, its policy and its culture. It is impossible to state whether the people responsible are the Jews or the Arabs. I am simply stating the facts of the disaster." [pp. 70-71]


Why Israel needs to be peace-oriented

"Reality proves that immigration to Israel has been decreasing a lot in recent years. Whereas about half those Jews who are authorized to leave the USSR prefer not to go to Israel, and immigration from Europe and America is decreasing, emigration - particularly by young Israelis - is on the increase. This is particularly due to the economic and psychological difficulties created by the state of war, and it is one of the most convincing arguments why Israel should make concessions which will enable a lasting peace to be concluded." [p. 72]


Israel: deaf to others including the Jews of the Diaspora

[Ben Gurion] "thought what so many others think - that it was for Israel to give the orders and for the Diaspora to follow them. Even today that is where many Israeli politicians stand. They tell the Diaspora: 'Shut up and admire.' World Jewry is too intelligent to accept this authoritarianism, and it has a lot more doubts about the wisdom of the Israeli government than is generally recognized. Nobody want to embarrass the state, but the unease goes on growing." [p. 81]

"Golda Meir much the same ideas as Ben Gurion: she distrusted the Diaspora and did not want it meddling with Israel's affairs." [p. 82]

Israel's aggressiveness, known to the world

"When I was 'president of presidents' of the Jewish organizations of the United States I was not informed of the Sinai campaign. Ben Gurion had not wanted to tell anybody about it, but without our support Israel would have suffered a terrible reverse. On the day the war broke out, Moshe Sharett, Israel's Foreign Minister, was visiting Nehru - who was very anti-Israeli and used to tell Sharett that Israel was a very aggressive state. The minister was arguing that on the contrary his cuntry wanted peace right up to the point when Nehru showed him the telegram he had just received, informing him that Israel had sprung up to arms and gone to Sinai. Imagine Sharett's humiliation. That sort of thing ought not to happen again, because everything Israel does has repercussions on world Jewry." [pp. 82-83]

Neutralization of Israel and Principled Spiritual Loyalty to it

"If Zionism has an ideological task, it is to create a spiritual contre within the State of Israel, then to proclaim to all the world that Jews must be loyal to the State of Israel unless there is a political conflict, in which case each is free to choose.

It is precisely in order to avoid this kind of wrench that I am in favour of the permanent neutralization of Israel. I wrote as such in an article printed by Foreign Affairs, and I say again: Israel ought to be a country (and if need be the only country) which keeps out of international politics. I was even against its joining the United Nations, because the UN is no longer a neutral institution, above the battle, but a conglomerate of contradictory political interests. In every session of the United Nations, Israel is obliged to adopt a set position - against the USSR, for America, for the Blacks, against South Africa, and so on." [pp. 84-85]

Israel: The fifty-second state of America

"A Soviet ambassador once told me: 'Your friend Ben Gurion believes that he is Prime Minister of a sovereign state. That's ridiculous. Israel is the fifty-second state of America.' That remark show how hard it is for a Russian Jew to be altogether pro-Israeli as long as Israel's American ties appear so strong. That is why I ask for Israel to become a neutral state, guaranteed not only by the great powers but by the whole world, Arabs included." [p. 86]

How Israel should have approached it neighbors [note: One of the most profound comments of Goldmann]

"If I had met Nasser I would like to have told him this: 'You Arabs are a very generous people. Your relationship with the Jews in history has been better than ours with the Christians. You have persecuted us, but we have also been through wonderful periods of cooperation: in Spain, in Baghdad, and in Algeria ... So remain generous. Ours is an unfortunate people. I admit that Palestine belonged to you by international law. But we suffered so much for two thousand years. We have lost a third of our population because we had no territory. Then grant us at least one percent of your own, and guarantee our existence. Stand with America, Russia and France as one of the guarantors of Israel's survival.' I am convinced that a speech of that kind would have had a great psychological effect on the Arabs, by giving them a feeling of pride and still more of equality. And i fact I have put it to several Arab leaders who were fascinated by the idea. Unhappily it seems that Israel chooses another way." [p. 86]

Jerusalem is above conquest

"I asked a rabbi who is one of the greatest authorities on Jewish law: 'Does religious law require keeping the old town of Jerusalem at all costs?' He shrugged and replied: 'Its an absurdity! The supreme law of Judaism is to respect one's own life except in two cases: if you are forced to deny God, or if you are compelled to kill another man, in which case rather you should die. But otherwise the priority is staying alive. To sacrifice the life of a single soldier for the sake of the conquest of Jerusalem is against Jewish law.' " [p. 87]

Herzl's Zionism: The Double Falsehood

"There have always been two conflicting conceptions of Zionism. According to Herzl it had to be political. Herzle was an assimilated Jew who knew next to nothing about Jewish history. For him it was a simple matter, and he put it in a famous and totally misleading saying: "The problem of Zionism is one of means of transport: there is a people without a land, and a land without a people.' So it was just a matter of finding the ships to carry the people to the territory, and the problem was solved! This is a simplification of genius. I always say that the people of genius are the ones who do not understand the ifs and buts and who cut the Gordian knot. If Herzl had grasped the Jewish problem in all its complexity he would never have written The Jewish State. But he was ignorant on that subject, and that enabled him to utter a double falsehood: first, Palestine was not a country without a people, since there were hundreds of thousands of Arabs living there; second, the Jews were not a landless people, for the assimilated Jews were good Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen and so on." [p. 88]

Zionist political idea: Unique

"After all, the Zionist political idea is absolutely unique and fantastic. You may claim that it is senseless or that it is magnificent, but in either case it remains unique. Imagine for a moment what would happen if all the peoples in the world were to reclaim the lands they occupied two thousand years ago. Do you see the chaos? Yet here is a people which has had the audacity to act in that way, and the world said Yes! But when I say the world, I do not mean the masses, or even the diplomats, but only a few great statesmen." [p. 88]

Ben Gurion: Dictatorial style

"One of the reasons why he respected me was that I had the courage to stand up to him. You know, for years and years Ben Gurion rules Israel like a de facto dictator.  Not formally, of course ... " [p. 92]

Stereotyped attitude of Israeli leaders toward the Arabs:
[Ben Gurion, speaking to Nahum Goldmann]

"... with the Arabs, who are barbarians, all your gifts are worthless. Neither your culture, nor your charm, nor your arts of persuasion would make any impression on them. The only thing they understand is force, and the iron hand is me, not you." [pp. 96-97]

The failures of Israeli leaders in seeking peace

"Chaim Weizmann, who towards the end of his life was obsessed by his antipathy to Ben Gurion, used to say of him: 'Ben Gurion will create the State of Israel then ruin it by his policy.' And if Israel continues to follow Ben Gurion's political precepts I am afraid that Weizmann may turn out right at the end. I have often asked myself why this clever, brilliant man, who was not a petty provincial like so many Israeli leaders, who had a statesman's perspective, and the admiration of a man like de Gaulle - why a man like that failed to see that without an agreement with the Arabs, Israel would have no long-term future." [p. 98]

Ben Gurion's acknowledgment that Palestinians were stolen of their land

"One day, or rather night, in 1956 I sat up at his house till three in the morning. ... That night, a beautiful summer night, we had a forthright discussion on the Arab problem. 'I don't understand your optimism,' Ben Gurion declared. 'Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwiztz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.' " [p. 99]

"That was Ben Gurion all over: he had told me that so as to show how well he knew in his heart that Israel could not exist without peace with the Arabs, but his stubborn, aggressive, unbending character prevented him from following what his own intelligence told him. The best proof of that is that having lost his grip on power his intelligence reasserted itself; he even became a 'Goldmannite', declaring that all the occupied territories except Jerusalem should be restored." [pp. 99-100]

Israeli intransigence toward peace; disingenuous blaming of Egypt

On the subject of the Palestinians, Golda has always had a very clear-cut attitude, unlike Weizmann's, for example, when he used to say: 'The conflict between ourselves and the Palestinians is not a conflict of justice against injustice, but a conflict between two equal rights.' My opinion is that our own right is superior, for Palestine is a matter of life or death for the Jews, whereas for the Arabs it only represents one per cent of their vast territories. But Golda Meir did not bother about this kind of subtlety - which explains both her authority and her utter failure: throughout her four years as Prime Minister, Israeli policy did not budge; the Yom Kippur War and the complete isolation of Israel were the consequences of this rigidity.

Once again we missed the chance of a solution then. The government kept saying that there must be no concession, Israel must maintain its super-armament and not give the Arabs the impression of being weak and afraid. Everything springs from this theory: ... In politics one can never be sure, but I have a strong impression that on more than one occasion we might have obtained peace." [pp. 104-105]

"At the time of the negotiation for the first armistice with Egypt on 24 February 1949, some of the Israeli participants informed me that the armistice could have been transformed into genuine peace. I cannot swear to that, because I was not there, but what I am sure of is that we missed another opportunity in 1967, after the crushing Israeli victory which brought the Six Day War to an end. 'Two days before the attack, Levi Eshkol had solemnly declared: 'We have no territorial ambition.' So after that miraculous victory - which Dayan himself could not quite explain, as he has told me on several occasions - if Israel had said to the Arabs: 'Sign the peace tomorrow, and we will restore all territories  except Jerusalem', there might perhaps have been peace. A lot of Arab experts confirm this supposition now, but no, people want to cling on to what they have won - that is human nature. And this false policy which consists in hanging on to the status quo and not giving an inch, which was Golda Meir's favourite technique, has led to the impasse of today.

Bear in mind, incidentally, that I lay the main blame for this situation on the United States even more than on Israel. The Yom Kippur War is the fault of the Americans, who, for reasons of domestic policy (Nixon, the American Jews, anti-Soviet opinion) ... had spent years doing nothing. When they did try something, they did it too timidly: the israelis sabotaged the Rogers mission just as they put paid to the Jarring mission. The Egyptians were blamed at the time, but since then I have received information indicating that they were ready to negotiate. Israel meanwhile was insisting on talking to the Arabs directly, without any intermediary, and calling for face-to-face negotiations - which would have forestalled one of the Arab governments' notorious 'Khartum refusals' - but I am not sure that it was not a pretext for not negotiating at all. [p. 104]

America is democracy mainly in name

"America is a democracy mainly in name - not only because Johnson was a neurotic and Nixon a crook, but by the very nature of things. Perhaps the America of Jefferson was a democracy, as Switzerland is today because of its several cantons. In a small province it is possible to hold plebiscites, but in a country of two or three hundred million inhabitants, where power is concentrated in one capital and has to deal with military as well social problems, how much sense would that make?" [pp. 106-107]

Worshipping a state

To speak more precisely of Israel, I believe that the worship the state does Israel harm. After all, one of the greatest Talmudists of our own day has declared that the worship of the state in modern Israel is the equivalent of the idolatry of ancient times. ... The struggle against the arrogance of the state takes precedence over all the rest. Fulbright has written a good book on the subject, The Arrogance of Power." [p. 108]

Ben Gurion's preoccupation with the military

"Ben Gurion had a one-track mind, and could only deal with one thing at a time. ... He would tell me: 'I take care of the Jewish army; the rest doesn't interest me.' That was his great strength, but also his weakness, because when you do only one thing it is to the detriment of all the rest." [p. 111]

The irrationality of the Zionist idea

"It is the great utopias that create history, not the great realities. The Zionist idea, for example, is thoroughly irrational: for a people to wish to return to its former lands after two thousand years' absence goes against all reason. If Zionism had been rational it would have had to find another, more or less empty, country, which is just what the great English writer Israel Zangwill advocated." [p. 115]

Henry Kissinger on Israel

"He used to say: 'Given that there is a state, it would be immoral to allow it to be destroyed, but if I had been asked for my opinion before it existed, I would have said that it was not a solution to the Jewish problem.' " [p. 162]

Even the Chinese PM understood the fundamental predicament

"That is why it is in the interest of all for the Jewish people to possess a homeland of its own, not only to harbour and protect individuals who are physically threatened, but to safeguard values with concern all humanity. That is one reason that can justify us even before the Arabs.

If it was not a question of the material and spiritual survival of the Jewish people, the Arabs would have a perfect right to resent its being achieved at their expense. A socialist MP once raised the question of Zionism with Chou En-lai, at my suggestion, and the Chinese prime minister told him: 'Zionism is absurd. If God has promised the Jews a homeland, then let Him give them one, since God is all-powerful. But what has that to do with the Arabs? If the Jews needed a homeland because of Hitler, then let the Germans grant them one of their own provinces, instead of paying them off in millions of marks!' From a strictly logical angle, Chou En-Lai was right, but from the point of view of culture, philosophy and history, Israel constitutes the sole means of enabling the Jewish people to continue its contribution to human civilization. Humanity does in fact have the right to say to the Arabs: 'We ask you to sacrifice one per cent of your territories in the service of us all.' " [p. 198]

Dayan's immoral method

"As for Dayan, he has come up with a method, an immoral and unacceptable method, by which Arabs living in Israeli occupied territories would not be Israeli citizens. They might be working in Israel, but they would remain Jordanian citizens. So the Jewish people, which is in a minority all over the world, is to descend to taking South Africa as a model? That would mean undermining all the ideological foundations of Zionism.

I am absolutely against the Israeli attempt to colonize a territory stretching between the Gaza Strip and Sinai, and the plans to construct the town of Yamit. The idea will have to be discarded once peace has been made. The Arabs will not accept it, and many Israelis themselves are hostile to it. This kind of enterprise is the result of a miscalculation on the part of the Israeli government, which is under the impression that if Israel present the world with a fait accompli, the world would swallow it. ... The Arabs, though, have the same historical memory as the Jews. The Semitic race is a stubborn one; it forgets nothing." [pp. 199-200]

How Israel has been a part of the problem and how it can be overcome [fascinating]

"To those who dismiss me as a daydreamer when I air this plan, I can only reply that if they do not believe that Arab hostility some day be alleviated then might just as well liquidate Israel at once, so as to save the millions of Jews who live there. On this point I am categorical: there is no hope for a Jewish state which has to face another fifty years of struggle against Arab enemies. How many will there be, fifty years from now?

But I feel sure that we can live as friends within the framework of genuine alliance. Certain it has become a lot harder after thirty years of hidebound, ingrown Israeli policy is largely the fault of Ben Gurion. Yet there is still time to convince the Arabs that the Jews would bring them an immense contribution with their knowledge and technology, their two thousand years' experience throughout Europe. There are no great policies without great designs. 

A major section of Israeli public opinion and some influential leaders adhere to a theory according to which the Arab character will never allow them to suffer the presence of the state of Israel willingly. They back up this hypothesis by stressing the intolerance of the Arabs and their negative attitude to all minorities. I reject this theory utterly.

I do so, first, because if it were true there would be no hope of a future for the State of Israel: an Arab world of over a hundred million inhabitants would necessarily end up by annihilating the little Jewish if the Arabs were not prepared to accept it.

Secondly, I repudiate this idea, which is based on a racist concept. The character of a race  or people undoubtedly plays an important, but never a decisive role in its history. In the conflict between racism and the environment (see Taine and Gobnineau), nature and nurture, I make no final judgement, but I do think that the two elements carry different weights in different eras. During the 'golden age' of their Spanish domination, for example, the Arabs were more tolerant towards the Jews than the Christian world ever was, and the same spirit characterized them too at other other times - even as regard the Christians. ...

It is the different living conditions in the Diaspora and in an independent state which have produced so striking a change in so short a lapse of time. The same could happen with the Arabs, once liberated from the complexes of colonial domination and restored to a sense of security and human respect.

The first condition of success is, of course, that the Jews should adapt to the Arab world. Take the oil question for example. In my opinion the oil producers were quite right; they behaved brutally, but we must not forget that the capitalist world was exploiting them cynically. Western governments were making far more out of the re-sale of oil than the Arabs were making from the price of crude. It is thanks to the exploitation of the Third World that the Western countries went through an era unprecedented prosperity. Well, on this point in particular Israel should have taken the side of the Arabs and not lined up with America and the exploiters. Its position on this problem has had a disastrous consequence, because the Arabs said to themselves: 'Israel is decidedly a foregin element. It is an agent of imperialism and we've got to eliminate it.'

The clinching proof for the Arabs that the State of Israel was interfering with their international policy and so was not to be tolerated was provided by the Sinai war. They could not accept either the Israeli attack which sparked off the conflict or, still less, the collusion with the French and British, who in retaliation against Nasser for nationalizing the Suez Canal used Israel as a spearhead. I consider that war as one of Ben Gurion's major mistakes.

I have often defended the notion of a confederation uniting all the states in the Near East, Israel included. Each state would be sovereign in its domestic policy, but when it comes to foreign policy the Jews would have to adapt to the main lines laid down by the Arab majority. I have had hours of discussions on this subject, and have drawn the following conclusions: what disturbs the really responsible Arab leaders is not that Israel possesses half of Palestine; actually this is of little interest to them, especially if the Palestinians are granted a state of their own. No, what troubles them is the Jews setting themselves up as an independent minority inside the Arab world. 

I had a close friendship with the late Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations: I was one of ten people, I discovered, who were on a first-name terms with him. 'Go and see Nasser for me,' I once suggested to him, 'and propose this solution to him: let him recognize Israel and make peace, and Israel will become a member of a confederation of Near Eastern states including not only the Arab countries but Turkey as well. In that way the Jews will form a minority, which means that they will not be able to conduct an individual policy determined by the Americans, the British or the French, but will have to bow to the collective decision. Israel will have to adapt, just as the members of the EEC do, like it or not.'

Hammarskjold passed on the message and Nasser replied: 'This actually may be a solution. The Arabs will steel themselves to accept the partition of Palestine, because we have vast amounts of land available which will take centuries to develop. But we will never accept Israel as a wedge inside the Arab world. Our plan is to form a bloc stretching from Morocco to Iraq. Unfortunately at the center of that block there is an Israeli state which does not care a rap for our plans. We want to create a policy of nonalignment and Israel practises a pro-capitalist policy. We cannot tolerate that.' It was a very good answer, and a year later, when I submitted the suggestion to Nehru, he was so impressed by it that he altered his schedule of visits and stopped in Cairo to talk to Nasser. 'I have already discussed it with Hammarskjold,' Nasser told him, 'and I instructed him to let Nahum Goldmann know that it really was a valid idea. Only, this Mr. Goldmann cannot deliver the goods. It is Ben Gurion who makes the decisions, not Goldmann, and we will never sign an accord with Ben Gurion, who is a brutal man, an aggressor and imperialist.'  [pp. 202-204]

The reality of the present moment

"But the reality of the present moment is taking us daily from the this solution. I have often been publicly critical of the Zionist economic policy. The Jerusalem government should have brought the Israeli Arabs into the economy right from the start. Banks were created: why not grant thirty per cent of the shares to the Arabs? Big industries were created: why not get them involved? Like everybody else, Jews do not like to give something for nothing, and that is a very human reflex. The slogan 'Jewish labour to createa Jewish state' brought about a revaluation of manual and agricultural labour in Israel, and that was fine thing, but it also excluded the Arabs from the development of Palestine.

The big mistake of the Zionists was their insistence on monopolizing all the positions of power. Yet just imagine the combination of the Jewish financial and commercial acumen with the Arab billions! The Near East could become one of the wealthiest regions in the world. We unquestioningly took the wrong direction from the start, and did not pay enough attention to the warnings of a far-sighted Zionist minority (people like Buber, Kalvariski, Arlosorot and others) who sensed what a false step it was. I often point out that had we put twenty per cent of the energy we expended on influencing the British, American, German and French governments into influencing the Arabs instead, there would never have been a war. But we said to ourselves: 'What do these bedouins matter? Better to convince Balfour, Wilson and Roosevelt.' An expensive mistake.

Most Palestinians are now reduced to living in refugee camps, which raises the question that keeping them there now provides the Arab government with a good excuse for evading their domestic problems - underdevelopment, food shortages and excessively high birthrates." [pp. 205-206]

The issue of Jerusalem

"As for Jerusalem, it is unthinkable for the old town to be handed back to the Arabs and the city divided once again. I am convinced that none of the big powers, Russian included, has any such possibility in mind, and I believe that most of the Arabs themselves have realized that another partition of Jerusalem would be quite absurd. On the other hand it is hard to imagine the Arabs putting up with the legal annexation of the old town which is sacred to three great religions becomes some sort of special legal entity. The holy places might constitute a kind of neutral enclave, with administration and public services (gas, electricity, etc.) an Israeli responsibility, and local autonomy for the Armenian, Arab and quarters." [p. 209]

Solution that must be considered now

"In any case Kissinger's step-by-step policy is no longer operative, as the Carter administration is now advocating a total solution. I am in favour of this policy, which aims at getting the Arabs to recognize Israel and sign a formal peace agreement in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from the greater part of the occupied territories, except for the town of Jerusalem, for which a solution acceptable to all the different peoples and religions will have to be found, ..." [p. 212]

 


Also read Nahum Goldmann's "must read" essay: Zionist Ideals and the Reality of Israel [1978]


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Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs
Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs
Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs
Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs
Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs Zionism Israel Nahum Goldmann Peace Arabs