In order to arrive at peace, we must immediately sober up. We must not dream of love between ourselves and our former enemies. This is not a tear-jerker with a good ending, filmed in Cinemascope, but a split-screen cable-television menu, one that shows us many, many movies at once.
In one square, we watch the Muslim brothers proclaim their tenets from atop the mosques; in other squares, we witness Iran's nuclear arsenal. And Iraq's secret nuclear facilities. And a nationalist--or religious--uprising in Jordan. Or one of Moammar Kadafi's more insane moments. And a terrorist from one of the opposing extremist Palestinian organizations--and there will always be more and more extreme ones--aboard an El Al flight.
And in order to really frazzle my nerves, I will attempt to envision one more square, in which the prime minister of Israel orders that the fuses be set in place at the nuclear facility in Dimona.
But in one square, just as small as the rest, there will be another picture: not one with a digitalized dove carrying a digitalized olive branch, but one in which an Israeli and a Jordanian surgeon work together to implant a heart in a Syrian cardiac patient at a new medical facility in Jedda, one that will be named Shiba (Hebrew) or Ship a (Arabic), meaning "to convalesce." The patient will receive this heart from the Middle East Organs Bank in Beirut. Or we might watch a report on the operation to nab drug lords launched by Intra-East, the Interpol of the Middle East, made up of the different police forces of the region, or a session held by the commission appointed to investigate the colossal defeat suf fered by the Israelis at the hands of the Egyptians. In soccer. We may watch the launching of a new, Israeli-Jordanian irrigation plant in the Arava or an Israeli rock band in a musical dialogue with an experimental Yemenite band in a benefit staged to raise money for the drought-stricken citizens of southern Iraq; a meeting between Israeli and Syrian educators attempting to plan the textbooks for the next generations; a heated debate between an Israeli and a Palestinian professor at the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Department of the Middle East University in Nablus, or Beersheba. . . . Yes, we are all allowed to dream and to remember that many things are impossible until the moment they happen.
And in one small square, the one in which my dreams come true--it is difficult to write this, my instincts are immediately set on edge--a controlled explosion, a voluntary dismantling of the nuclear facility in Dimona, the facility that is both a nuclear arsenal and a metaphor, whose dismantling may be the strongest expression of renouncing an entire way of thinking.
But before we set our sails for such distant parts, it might be better to dream of the attainable: of the signing of a free-trade agreement between Israel, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. And, of course, Palestine.
When writing fiction, it is of utmost importance to be meticulous with the facts. Castles in the air soar infinitely higher when constructed with tangible building blocks. Even more so, when we dream of a future reality, we should be meticulous and build only with tangible, concrete elements. The key word in this imaginary world is \o7 interests. \f7 A dense network of partnerships and common goals. And if there is someone who holds reservations about the hope I have expressed here for prosperity in the Arab world, he should be reminded that Israel's basic interest is that the countries in this region shall be sated, stable, advanced and reliant on one another--as well as on Israel and the West through a wide network of ties. The first man to understand this was Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who has always been inclined toward the future, and that is why he was the fastest among the politicians and statesmen to become accustomed to the new situation. Though there were those who sniffed in distaste when he attempted to raise funds for the Palestinians, Peres, the most practical visionary of them all, simply knew. If the current, blazing, destructive relationships are translated into commercial ones, into regional economic development projects, into financial and investment markets, the chance that these partners will try to erase one another becomes smaller--not nonexistent, but smaller.
Again, I am not talking about love, I only pray for restrained animosity. For constructive suspicion. There is usually no great love between nations. But as years go by, a painful internalization sets in, that with this certain people we can no longer wage war on the battlefields. Instead, we go to battle on the fields of commerce, tourism and financial investments.