The Middle East Conundrum
May 18, 2009
You may have noticed recent scenes on your television set of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, listening very intently as visiting Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was talking.
The never-ending agony of life in the Middle East and the security of Israel, and, of course, the plight of the Palestinians goes on and on. And it will continue long after we have all ceased to prowl the earth.
Enough of my pessimism, there is no easy solution to this conflict. The problem exists because neither side is willing to make concessions. To do justice to the complexities of this subject would fill volumes. However, let me try to at least give some of you an inkling of what it is like to attempt to mediate this constant bickering and the failed breakthroughs that we hear about so often in relations between Israel and Palestine.
First of all, as a talk show host for more years in the city of New York than anybody else, I can tell you the Jewish community members (at least the majority who called “The Bob Grant Show”) are really followers of a man named Vladimir Jabotinsky, a journalist and Zionist leader who believed in the creation of “Eretz Israel.” In English this means, “Greater Israel,” the area stretching from the Lebanese border through Palestine, through the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian border.
There are Jewish Americans living in the U.S. and willing to fight to the last Israeli as long as they can be armchair generals in Borough Park. On the other hand, I also got calls from obvious anti-Semites who want the Palestinians to have everything and actually, using the phrase, do believe in a “final solution.”
You must realize I am giving you this blunt appraisal as a result of taking a myriad of phone calls in the city of New York since l970. Diplomacy is an unknown word to these people. From my perspective, therefore, there can be no end to this perilous situation.
I have made many trips to Israel. I had one of the most unusual interviews I have ever conducted in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after the Six-Day War of June l967. The interview was with a hero of the Six-Day War, Gen.Yitzhak Rabin, who was supposed to be interviewed by me on “The Bob Grant Show” in Los Angeles. Gen. Rabin had been chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces during the battle.
However, the Israeli Consulate in L.A. had been bombed and the Israeli government had been getting threats on Rabin, so it was suggested I go to his hotel suite on the 10th floor of the Beverly Wilshire to meet him. We even had a secret procedure I was to follow. When I got into the lobby, I was to pick up the lobby phone and call 1006 (I believe it was). He was to just say “hello” and I was to say my name and that I was alone. It was that simple and he told me to meet him upstairs in his room.
There was absolutely no one else in the general’s suite. It was just the two of us. I had my tape recorder all ready to record. We chatted briefly before I began the interview and he was very polite and even exhibited a sense of humor which somewhat surprised me.
I told him I had recently visited Cairo and he said, “I almost was in Cairo myself.” The reference of course was to the fact that his Israel Defense Forces (IDF) army had captured Sinai and probably could have gone all the way to Cairo, but the United Nations and the “big boys” called a halt to the hostilities.
After all, since Israel had won, that’s what world opinion always seemed to do. “Enough, stop fighting!” If I had more time there is much more I would like to say about this most incredible interview with a man who would become the prime minister of Israel only to be assassinated by an Israeli nut job in 1995.
But getting back to a more important topic, I can see no solution to the problems in the Middle East. With the Arab birth rate so much greater than the Jewish birth rate, and with so many Jews leaving Israel, sad to say the inevitable truth will prevail.
Demography is destiny, and the demographics are with the Palestinians. Shalom!