July 26, 2008


SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LEON DE WINTER: 'The Europeans Are Chasing Illusions': Dutch author Leon de Winter talks with SPIEGEL about his new novel, which is set in 2024, the threats mounting against Israel and the assimilation of Muslims in Europe. (Der Spiegel, 7/25/08)
SPIEGEL: Mr. de Winter, your new book -- "The Right of Return" -- is a novel, but it actually describes a political vision. In the book, it is the year 2024, and Israel has shrunk to just a few square kilometers around Tel Aviv, which is surrounded by enemies. Are you simply playing with some ideas here or is this a serious prediction?

Leon de Winter: Both. Israel is menaced by two threats. On the one hand, by the hatred of its enemies, which today is primarily stirred up by Iran, and on the other hand, by the erosion spreading throughout Israeli society. There are three groups that have little in common: the Orthodox Jews, the Israeli Arabs and the secular Jews, who currently make up the majority of the population. But this majority is dwindling. The conflict between these three lifestyles is every bit as much of a threat -- if not even more dangerous -- to the existence of Israel as its outside menaces. [...]

SPIEGEL: This is not the first time that you have made skeptical remarks about Israel's future. This story sounds like the proclamation of a catastrophe.

De Winter: And that's what it is. [...]

SPIEGEL: Do you think the conflict in the Middle East can be resolved through negotiations, or will the strongest win out in the end?

De Winter: It will depend on who gives up first -- who won't be able to take it any longer because it costs too much: too much energy, too much time, too much blood. And that will be the secular Jews, who have no ideology, who merely want to live their lives.

SPIEGEL: In your vision, many Jews leave Israel and emigrate to Europe or America, where life is easier. In the real Israel, an increasing number of Jews are acquiring a second passport, but it doesn't look like they really want to leave. It's more a modern form of life insurance, just in case things go wrong.

De Winter: It's more than that. Immigration compensates for emigration because Russian Jews are still coming into the country. Nevertheless, take a look at Los Angeles or New York, where there are now large communities of ex-Israelis. And you even have them here in Holland. I wonder what will happen if it comes to a new conflict with Hezbollah. Very soon, the majority of Israelis will live within range of the rockets launched by Hezbollah and Hamas. Contrary to Islam, Judaism has a very weak tradition of martyrdom. In the end, we are powerless against a people who are prepared to sacrifice everything.
...and the fools made it a European one. In the long run, we may find out they were right to reject the Messiah 2,000 years ago, but we already know you can't build a healthy republic having rejected messianism sixty years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 26, 2008 8:32 AM

Did you mean to write "you can't build" in that last line?

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 26, 2008 1:04 PM
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