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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2003 / 13 Elul, 5763

A SCIENCE FICTION HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST

By David D. Perlmutter


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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | My favorite genre of literature is the so-called "alternative universe" science fiction tale in which a counterfactual of history is explored. What if Alexander had died at Gaugamela? What if the Kaiser's withered arm hadn't driven him to bombastic military expansionism? What if Karl Marx had taken up sports reporting instead of political pamphleteering? And so on.

There is some scientific validity to such speculations. Some cosmological theories propose coexisting alternative universes where all sorts of historical events skew in different directions than in ours. The Sci-Fi Channel program "Sliders" was based on this premise.

Sometimes I muse what the Middle East would be like if a few critical decisions had been made differently.

Let's begin in the actual — that is, our universe — 1870s. Jews from many lands start migrating to the barren and sparely settled land west of the Jordan River, joining the small population of native Jews, Christians, and Bedouin. In the decades to come through the 1920s Arabs drift in as well — the Jews are making the desert bloom, building factories, creating jobs.

But now the timelines split and we diverge into another universe. The leaders of local and surrounding Arab communities begin a great debate — what to do about the future? Some say that the Jews should be expelled. They call for Jihad. The Jews and Christians, they say, should only be slaves or subjects, not equals. Is that not what our law and tradition demand and have always done?

Others disagree. The Jews, they note, are creating prosperity in land that has not thrived since they last occupied it. Is not G-d's hand visible in the green fields and bustling shops? The Koran says so, after all. And though the Jews have no weapons and no military tradition, will they be so easy to kill? And what if we lose the war? Our ancestors, after all, stole this land from the Jews and Christians long ago. What will the Jews do to us if they defeat us in a war to "drive them into the sea"? And then, too, why commit our children to war when all can share in prosperity? And do we want to encourage the kind of madmen who would lead such a war?

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The moderates in this alternative universe win. During the 1920s and 1930s Arabs and Jews formed many cooperative councils and agreements. No one's land was infringed upon. Everyone prospered. During World War II and after, Jews settled European refugees in the Jewish areas of the land.

After the war a plebiscite was held. The Jews voted for their own country in unification with most of the Arabs. Other Arabs decided to merge with Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt. The moderate and progressive Arab national leaders join in, recognizing the new states. After all, they want to move ahead with modernizing their countries and understand that a perpetual war in the center of the Arab world would end up making all of them miserable, impoverished, and surely led by thieves and madmen.

On September 11, 2001 a great celebration is held in Jerusalem. Its theme: 100 YEARS OF SEMITIC PEACE. The democratically elected President of the Republic of Arabia toasts the guests and says, "We Semites have proven what sensible men and women of sense and temperance can accomplish. The world envies our example."

And in that universe's planet earth all other peoples do admire the great accomplishments of the children of Abraham.

Looking back at 100 years of Arab psychotic violence and radicalism in our universe, we can only sigh in envy.

Unfortunately, I think the case can be made that a "moderate-and-sensible-Palestinian-universe" does not exist. Historians point out that some counterfactuals are impossible because basic psycho-social realities proscribe them. Example: Hitler lost the war in Russia for many reasons but one was that was he never fully exploited the deep anti-Communist sentiment of the many peoples oppressed by the Soviet Union. Instead he treated them like slaves or simply murdered them. But speculating how the war would have gone if the Nazi army had been one of liberation and not destruction is foolish. Hitler would have not invaded the East unless he saw the Slavs and other peoples as subhumans fit only for the slaughter pits or the slave camps. A wise and gentle Hitler would not have been der Fuhrer of the Drang nach Osten.

Likewise, a Palestinian Gandhi or an Arab moderate and sensible foreign policy are impossibilities. Gandhi was a product of Anglo-Hindu culture and millions in India shared his dreams and taught their children to share them; even the elites of India generally agreed that terrorism and eternal war was not in their interests.

But in the Middle East the opposite was and is true. The great historian Vahakn N. Dadrian in his classic text, The History of the Armenian Genocide, noted that one of the main causes of the genocide of Armenians by the Turks was that, in the wake of World War I, the Armenians, formerly known as the most docile subject people of the Ottoman Empire, now wanted basic equal rights. But this was a thing no Muslim could grant a dhimmini: so they were exterminated.

Likewise the elites of the Arab world knew in 1948 and know today that true peace would mean their own overthrow by their less fortunate countrymen because the perennial distraction of the "Jew Enemy" would be removed. Moreover, for many generations, Arab schools, cultures, and parents have been raising children to view hate as the only acceptable emotion and martyrdom as the only virtue of life. How can one make peace with people who dress up their 4-year-olds in dynamite for parades? Most brutally: how can one make peace with that four year old, even presuming his parents allow him to live to adulthood?

On the other hand a few brave Muslims throughout history have pointed toward another possibility, one in which the believers obey the words of the prophet that the people of Moses should "enter the Holy Land which G-d has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'" [Qur'an 5:20-21] and the holy injunction that "We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'" [Qur'an 17:104] Yet, in our universe is a fact that almost all the possible Muslim peacemakers of the last century have been marginalized or assassinated.

So perhaps I'm wrong and one day scientists will find a universe where the Caliphs are reasonable men (and women) and the "Arafat Youth" are not bloody-minded maniacs — but until I travel there myself, I'll believe that the Middle East that exists here and now is the only one possible.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor David Perlmutter is an associate professor of mass communication at Louisiana State University and a senior fellow at the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. He is the author of, among others, Visions of War : Picturing Warfare from the Stone Age to the Cyber Age. Comment by clicking here.

07/10/03: Beware Palestinian rope-a-dupe tactics
04/01/03: 'Palestinians' are to blame for Fedayeen Saddam
03/27/03: Time for Muslim world to prove the West wrong
02/13/03: Don't warn me, again
01/23/03: 'Palestine' for Dummies
11/05/02: Decision '02 may well be finalized on Dec. 7
08/29/02: Should Israel go Nazi?
07/29/02: Thou shalt judge our Jewish leaders
07/11/02: The Lie of the Land
05/30/02: What did you do while Israel was destroyed?
05/21/02: George Lucas has gotta go!
04/18/02: To jump-starting the market, the animals need to be re-trained

© 2003, David Perlmutter