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July 4, 2011
Arabs and Israelis: What Comes Next, I Said
Uprisings across the Arab world, Palestinians storming Israeli frontier fences, the president of the United States and prime minister of Israel arguing publicly over "secure and recognized borders." To policy makers and pundits, this year's been one surprise after another.
Apparently they have not read my 2002 novel, Total Jihad (RavensYard Publishing Ltd.,), in particular page 75 (anti-regime upheavals in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere), pages 54-55 (storming of the fences) or pages 47-49 and 60-66, among others (Israel forced by the United States and Europe to return to the indefensible pre-'67 armistice lines).
As for the "Arab spring," which Total Jihad renders more like a Tehran summer, I admit it -- I confused fundamentalist Saudis with more liberal-minded Tunisians. But there's still time. For Tunisia to regress or the anti-democratic House of Saud to tilt even more in the medievalist Wahhabi direction, that is.
My sister, who lives in Israel with her family, did not care for the novel. "Too realistic, too depressing," she said in 2003.
Three years later, during Israel's war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, a Hezbollah rocket smashed into a piece of modern sculpture in a traffic circle a quarter-mile from her house. Something similar happens in Total Jihad, page 57, only the missiles are Syrian and the blasted pieces are those in the sculpture garden at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
So my crystal ball was hazy, but not opaque.
Want to know what happens next? Just go to Amazon.com. Please ignore the used copies for discounted resale and join the tens, nay dozens who paid full retail.
While you eagerly await delivery, a few hints:
Israel, forced back to the vulnerable pre-'67 lines, is ostracized by a Europe increasingly influenced by antisemitism (imagine Norway as permanent head of the E.U.). The United States holds it at arm's length. The young, telegenic U.S. president and his even more attractive, ambitious wife have other concerns, including the collapse of supplier regimes among Arab oil producers.
Israel, without means to replace losses in equipment and fuel, succumbs to multiple attacks by neighbors not placated but rather incited by its concessions. Sort of like the escalations of Palestinian terrorism after the start of the 1993 Oslo "peace process" and again after the Israeli-U.S. offer of a West Bank and Gaza Strip country, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in 2000 and 2001.
What's left of the Jewish state becomes an oppressed district of the Arab Islamic Republic of Greater Palestine. Did I mention that a Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood overthrows the minority Hashemite dynasty in Jordan? My bad; see pages 71-72.
Then things get really interesting. A young, charismatic rabbi who delivers mesmerizing sermons and looks great in a black dress and heels revives America's fragmented, demoralized Jewish community. In the Middle East, the unexpectedly successful Islamist revolutionaries over-reach. A Jewish insurgency arises and officials of Greater Palestine begin to disappear.
And then ... but no, that would be giving away too much.
A caveat: Like some other first political novels, Total Jihad's a bit over-written. Fortunately, the plot and characters surpass their creator.
Just before my copyright application for "The Last Jihad," by Eric Rozenman, that title was taken by Joel Rosenberg. Different plot, major publisher, it landed on The New York Times best-seller list. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me then, "Ah, Mr. Rosenberg, I loved your book," it would exceed my royalties.
But no crying over literary misadventure. Just an observation:
Judging by the way subsequent headlines have comported with my fantastical plot, I managed to concoct a scenario less unlikely than that of former President George W. Bush and current President Barack H. Obama, of "two states, Israel and Palestine, democratic, living side-by-side in peace." Fiction, unlike foreign policy, must aim for verisimilitude.
The author is Washington director of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, and former executive editor of B'nai B'rith's International Jewish Monthly. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.
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