On the Need for a Toughminded Idealism in the Middle East

A Response to a Discussion on the University of Chicago Campus, March, 7, 2013, “One-State, Two-States Solutions with Respect to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”

George Anastaplo

            Non-Jews everywhere (and especially Middle Eastern Muslims) could benefit significantly over the long-run if virtually all of “divinely-ordained” Biblical Israel (or Judea) (the traditionally-proclaimed Promised Land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River) should hereafter be generally recognized as an obviously secure Jewish State (with quite-small minorities of Bahai’s, Christians, Muslims and others permitted [usually as institutional caretakers] as respected permanent residents but not even they as citizens).

Such a general recognition of a “perpetual” Jewish exclusivity in the Holy Land should, upon being properly explained and humanely implemented by people of obvious good will, promote world peace. It would require, among other publicized developments, a conscientious program of clearly generous compensation (financed primarily by North American and Western European Jews) for the millions of long-oppressed Palestinians (current residents in that land [including even many nominal citizens of Israel] as well as the decades-long refugees in Gaza and elsewhere) who would have to be routinely denied, for the foreseeable future, permanent residence in Greater Israel (as distinguished from reliable access for everyone as pilgrims to historic sacred sites). This kind of systematic migration (an orderly Palestinian Exodus from an Israeli “Egypt”) should leave the descendants of the now-to-be routinely resettled Palestinians thankful (a generation from now) that their substantially-subsidized parents and grandparents had been compassionately rejuvenated elsewhere after having been obliged to sell whatever real property they may have once cherished, perhaps even for generations.

The likely alternative to the kind of fundamental resolution that I have presumed to suggest here (adapting to current circumstances, and with a minimum of theological presuppositions, what I have considered myself obliged to say for decades now about these matters***) –the likely alternative to what is proposed here would be still another violence-plagued generation of dreadful anxiety on one side and ever-deepening resentment on the other, with fanciful calculations and irresponsible rhetoric about borders, birth rates, nuclear threats, terrorist plots and shifting alliances, thereby inducing everyone involved to experiment with desperate measures that are only likely to make matters ever worse for all who may happen (now and for the foreseeable future) to be somehow involved. (Need I add that much of what I have been moved to propose here could effectively be done, with salutary effects, by intelligently-organized non-State actors?)

***See, e.g., George Anastaplo, “The Case for Supporting Israel,” Chicago Sun-Times, October 21, 1973, sec. 1A, pp. 3, 14 (reprinted in 119 Congressional Record E7040, November 3, 1973; G. Anastaplo, Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom and the Common Good (1975), pp. 72-73, 155-59, 305-06; G. Anastaplo, “On Freedom: Explorations,” 17 Oklahoma City University Law Review 465, 622f (1992); G. Anastaplo, The Christian Heritage: Problems and Prospects (2010), pp. 242-54, 427-29. Letters of mine about Israel have been published in the Chicago Jewish Star (and posted thereafter on anastaplo.wordpress.com). That the measures cautiously advocated here are likely to seem quite “unrealistic” may testify to how desperate “the situation” indeed is in the Middle East. I suspect, however, that there are thoughtful men and women in the Muslim world who would quietly endorse the apparently extreme measures that I have been moved to suggest from time to time for the likely good of everyone involved in that particularly troubled part of the world. They, especially, should also be able to recognize the enduring significance of the Jewish people’s 4,000-year connection to the Holy Land. Should there not be generally recognized as well, very much bearing on all this, the unbelievable awfulness of what the Western World permitted to be done to the Jews between 1939 and 1945?

Hyde Park
Chicago, Illinois
March 25-26, 2013


An edited version of this article appeared in The Chicago Jewish Star, April 12, 2013, p. 6.


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One Response to On the Need for a Toughminded Idealism in the Middle East

  1. If I understand this correctly, Professor Anastaplo favours the forced expulsion of millions of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to a non-specified destination, combined with monetary compensation. Can Professor Anastaplo possibly be serious about this? Or do I misunderstand what he is suggesting?

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