Should you look at my latest book, Quo Vadis, Israel?, which expounds on the idea of “moving the State of Israel to greener acres”, you are likely to ask, ‘Is Peter Nennhaus a crackpot or, worse yet, an anti-Semite?’ Let me assure you, I’m neither. Instead, I made a serendipitous discovery, which, if we send a few prayers to heaven, may hold immense benefit for the Israelis and many others as well.
In a nutshell, the book tells you that there will never be peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not in fifty years and not in a century, and that there are obvious reasons for this. It further says, peace or no peace, the demographic time bomb will go off perhaps in three or four generations, whereupon the Israeli Jews will be a minority and exposed to the vengeance of the angry Arabs. Consequently, Israel resembles a patient who suffers from a disease that’s not only chronic and incurable but ultimately fatal. I know, that prognosis is one for the books but it is essential for understanding Quo Vadis, for if you believe it might be true, you will be intrigued by what my book is about. On the other hand, if you believe my deadly prognosis is nothing but poppycock you should not waste your time on it.
Let me tell you how this came about. I grew up in Germany and still have relatives there. It started innocently enough with a nasty joke about President G.W. Bush, which I e-mailed to my cousin. In his reply he attached a travel journal about a trip to the so-called Kaliningrad Territory. This is the northern part of what used to be the German province of East Prussia on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. Upon Germany’s defeat in 1945, Stalin annexed it and gave the southern part of the province to Poland. I had known all along about the ill reputation of the Kaliningrad area, but my cousin’s report was nothing less than appalling. The Russians have made a mess of it. It is a failed state. It is the site of indigence, Stalinist bureaucracy, endemic corruption and alcoholism, drug abuse and drug trade, illicit arms trade, crime and the strong arm of the Russian Mafia. The Europeans call it the Devil’s Kitchen and The Black Hole. More importantly, for reasons explained in the book, no help is in sight as there is a standoff between Moscow and the European Union about how to correct the problem.
Reading about this, a fleeting thought passed through my mind. How prosperous and healthy would this land be, I thought, had in 1948 the State of Israel been created here instead of in Palestine. Neither of the neighbors, Lithuania and Poland, have a claim to the land, so there would be nobody in the world to accuse the Jews of having stolen the land. The next day the thought came back. Could one transfer the State of Israel up to the Baltic now? It was an absurd idea as well and I dismissed it. Unsolicited but intriguing, the idea turned up day after day, although being ignored every time. After perhaps ten days, I gave in and, enjoying intelligent hobbies, decided to carry out a little research, which would prove the foolishness and absurdity of the concept once and for all. That’s what I did, yet to my utter surprise, after many months, my investigations proved the exact opposite.
Many questions had to be answered. What was the background and justification of Zionism? What has happened to its goodwill and idealism? Why hasn’t peace been achieved in sixty years? How do the Arabs look at Israel and the West? What would have to happen to appease their animosity? What are the chances that peace and harmony are ever to come about in the Middle East? Is Israel’s permanence endangered by the higher birthrate of the Israeli Arabs? If so, how long will it be until they outnumber Israeli Jews? What are the history, climate, fertility and economic viability of the Kaliningrad Territory? Why would Russia sell the land to the Israelis? What are the chances that the Israelis agree to this plan? Who is going to pay for it and is it affordable? What benefits would be accruing to the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Russians presently living in Kaliningrad, the Middle East, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the world at large?
Instead of finding the catch hiding in the project, the reason for its failure, after months of study everything kept falling neatly into place. The benefits were immense. Israel would be saved from an incurable and fatal disease by a well-planned surgical operation. It was an operation that was safe, predictably successful, and affordable. Equally promising were the benefits accruing to the Palestinians, the Middle East in general, and all the other parties involved. It would be a legitimate business transaction assured of worldwide approval and it would end a painful tragedy.
It was to be expected that this concept would encounter disbelief and rejection because of its novelty and extraordinariness. It might also evoke spurious fears of violating our pro-Israeli attitude and loyalty although the reverse is true. I also remembered rational policies being rejected for no other reason than that they were out of fashion or disapproved by ideology. But, I felt, before we discard this concept out of hand, it should first be put up for discussion and so I decided to publish it.
That was easier said than done. No publisher and no agent was willing to accept the challenge or to venture out into such unexplored territory. In the end, I availed myself of the friendly services of Outskirts Press, a demand self-publisher.
It is a brief text. I hope you will read it and do so with goodwill in your heart and an open mind. That is the spirit in which it was written.
Author’s Bio: H. Peter Nennhaus, a retired surgeon and Illinois resident, was raised in Berlin and became a U.S. citizen in 1961. He is the author of Boyhood, the 1930s and World War II, Memories, Comments and Views from the Other Side. Among his various interests, the study of the history of the 20th century, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism has been a persistent focus.