Thursday, June 06, 2002

35 years ago

Going by the secular calendar, yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day Jerusalem came back into Jewish hands.

We - Israel - won that war. Our enemies had declared their intention, as usual, to push us into the sea, to dance in our blood, etc. We begged Jordan's King Hussein not to join our other enemies; he turned us down, probably more afraid of what his "allies" would do to him if he didn't, then of the consequences of losing to Israel.

Sure enough, he lost his "west bank" - our Judea and Samaria - including Jerusalem. Oddly, neither he nor his son have asked for it back. I guess they must be thinking, "Let those Jews keep the land and all those 'refugee Palestinians.' Arafat and his crazies are more trouble to us than the land is worth!"

I've really been trying to understand the Moslem point of view. Yesterday, at a technical conference, I met a Canadian/Egyption who was willing to talk openly with me. "I think I know what Israel ought to do, but you won't like it," he said. "Try me," I answered.

"I think Israel should have annexed all the lands it won, and simply made all their residents Israeli citizens. I think it would have worked better had they done it in 1967, but it's still not too late," he said. That's one I hadn't heard from an Arab.

Could it work? In 1967, I think it might have. But now, with generations of inbred hatred, I don't know if it could happen - unless we deported those who didn't want to swear allegiance to the State of Israel. "Just get them credit cards and a mortgage, and you'll see what great citizens they become," said my cheerful new friend.

I asked him how any good Moslem could countenance living with Jews. "You have to realize that Islam never had anything comparable to a Reformation," he said. "Parts of the Koran say one thing about relations with Jews and Christians, while other parts say something quite different. I think we have to be willing to forsake the bad parts, and keep the profound and universal truths."

I am skeptical about that happening, frankly. But I was warmed by my new friend's optimism. I'm not willing to give up land for peace, but credit ratings? It's a thought...