“If Israel does not survive it is an omen that the Western civilization will
V.Igrunov: What has happened recently, to my mind, cannot be properly valued
as it is an event of absolutely epochal significance. First of all, the Jews
have withdrawn from the territory which they had taken by weapon, which they
initially did not plan to secede and which they seceded after all. Within all
that period, since 1967 to this day, within almost forty years they have been
winning one victory after another—and they were forced to retreat. This retreat
split the Israeli society. Many people thought they ought not to have left the
place. We all were witnesses of the dramatic process of deportation of the
settlers and those who had come to defend these lands. And, nevertheless, one of
the conquerors of these lands, an uncompromising general, became the leader of
Israeli withdrawal. The fact can hardly be comprehended by most people on our
Earth. Many can’t understand the dramatic character of the moment. For the
majority of people who lived there, to Jews, this land belongs to them by right,
the right not human, but Godly. It was God Who promised them this land.
Considering theocratic character of Israeli state, one should understand the
degree of importance of the fact for its citizens, the degree this belief has
penetrated into blood and flesh, and bones of these people. To leave the land
means for them to betray God, Who gave them this land forever. As my old friend
Michael Gefter used to say, it is an ideo-psychic catastrophe for them, going on
against the background of unchallenged dominance of Israel in this region.
If Israeli army only wishes—it may take Beirut. If Israeli army only
wishes—it will pass Sinai desert and come to Cairo. If it only wishes—it will
take Damascus. And, nevertheless, they withdraw. Why? Short-sighted people were
ready to leave everything as it was. But why, I’m asking a question, did not
they take Damascus? Why did not they take Beirut? Why did not they take
There are several reasons. Two of them I shall name. The first one is that
the World community will never let this be. Even in the period of the Triple
aggression, as we in the Union used to call it, that is British-French-Israeli
march to Sinai, those troops were stopped because the Soviet Union promised to
land there its troops, to send volunteers there. To fight with the Soviet Union
they did not want. Already in 1967 the Soviet Union was not the only who rose to
defend the Arabs. Today the USA stop Israel from time to time, when its steps
against Arabs become radical. It means that the World community cannot let the
Israeli armed forces win, to be precise, it does not admit the very thought that
only arms can solve the problems.
Though we are now living in the 21st century, this problem is the
legacy of the 20th century. It was posed and solved by adoption of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, after devastating wars, when weapons
could gain great victories. But the way the victories were achieved frightened
the mankind, at least, its European part, and it no longer can let problems be
solved through extermination of the enemy, through extermination of
When we turn, for example, to the Middle Ages, we see how a tiny tribe of
Bulgarians migrated from the Volga and conquered Thrace, having finally founded
the Great Bulgarian Kingdom. A tiny tribe of Magyars conquered Pannonia and
created the huge Hungarian Empire. The Turks, being not so numerous, were able
to conquer Asia Minor, Bezant, the Balkans, and keep this territory for
centuries. This series can be continued.
Why was it possible? Because military victories were never limited. If the
enemy had had to be exterminated, he was exterminated. If he had had to be
exterminated completely, he was exterminated completely. And people were left to
possess the territories they had conquered. The exterminated remained in the
earth, those driven out sought better lot beyond the limits of their land. In
the 20th century this way of solving the problem was already viewed
as impossible: even in case you can conquer the lands by sword for yourself
forever, the World community won’t let you fulfill this. It restricts our
activity in Chechnya to the same extent as it does the opportunities of Israel.
The other reason is rooted in the same thing. Because you cannot exterminate
the enemy, he starts to behave in you country as a citizen. Nobody can deny
rights of Israeli Arabs for the Israeli citizenship, while these Israeli Arabs
identify themselves as Arabs. They all the same feel sympathy towards
Palestinians, living outside Israel—while Arabian population is growing much
quicker than Jewish population. But this is not all. If you cannot exterminate
the Arabs living outside your borders, you should always be aware of their
constant population growth. Taking into account that Jews, though not a Western
nation, have brought a great deal of European values, and, first of all, the
value of human life (while secular Jews are becoming more and more numerous and
they are not ready to kill themselves and other people in God’s sake), they will
not be able to wage the same war with Arabs as Arabs wage with them, putting on
the altar of their ideas their own lives and lives f their children. To what
European will it occur that mother will bless their children for the suicide,
for becoming a Shakhid, and they will go to their native land—because it is
their land as well, the land of their imams, the land given to them by Allah!..
They are coming there and killing themselves together with representatives of a
hostile race. This war is not fair. It can be won only if you lose your human
image in its modern European sense. These two problems are closely connected.
They will never make Israel capable of winning the war—if the entire Western
world doesn’t suffer a destructive defeat, if it is not struck by a civilization
It is unlikely that anyone in Israel forecasts Western world complete
disappearance within nearest 50 years, therefore Israel will have to continue to
exist during these 50 years. At the same time support of Israeli policy in the
world is decreasing step by step. In 1967 all the European countries supported
Israel. Look—today neither France, nor Germany, nor Great Britain support the
Jews. Even the USA limit their support, at least, political one. Islamic
influence will keep growing during the following 50 years. Once, some young man
told me that the most widespread male name in the Netherlands is Mohammed. The
majority of boys born there have this name. The matter concerns not only
immigrants from Islamic countries, the matter concerns the fashion for Islam
among Hollanders themselves. It is clear then how much sympathy in Europe will
be on the side of Arabs.
During next fifty years the misbalance of population will keep increasing.
Even if Israel had immigration resources, these resources would be dropping
today—fewer and fewer people are coming to Israel. Birth rate in Jewish families
is lower than in Arab ones, the latter having a demographic peak. So, just
imagine the possibility of war during these 50 years, the sympathies of most
people being with your enemies, while you have only arms at your disposal. You
are becoming a fascist in the eyes of these people. In France I have repeatedly
heard French intellectuals speaking very ardently about Israeli fascism.
THIS war cannot be won. But there is one more element. Considering the world
is becoming destabilized and the USA have made a wrong decision in Iraq, having
started the war there, the number of war volunteers will keep growing. And these
people will appear not only in Iraq, they will appear in Chechnya, in the North
Caucasus, and we know well enough that Chechen militants are tougher than
Arabian ones. And they are ready to go to this sacred for the Muslims land and
fight there. So, today Jews badly need sympathies, they badly need allies
and—they must free the lands, secede the lands which had belonged to the Arabs
before 1967. Now they can say: “Yes, we have won this war but we returned you
the land in exchange for peace”. They are leaving to receive the world’s support
and hope for peaceful solution of the problem.
I’m far from being convinced that Arabs will be wise enough to consent to
this program. Most probably, acts of terrorism and attempts to conquer Israel
will continue. Some people will insist on returning Jerusalem—in any case, to
settle the conflict within old borders of 1967 will be impossible. Quite many
aggressive people will remain who will consider that Jerusalem must be erased
from Earth and “Israeli aggressors” should be driven away from the very heart of
the Arab world, as many used to say in old times. In this situation the
sympathies of Europe will be certainly on the side of Israel. And Israel will
receive not only European support—they will get an opportunity on the already
freed territories make military inroads and destroy Arabs.
I think that within the nearest 10 years peace will not come to the Near
East. I think that war will continue. I do not know its outcome. It is not
totally improbable that Israel as a state may disappear or turn into a different
state. It is not totally improbable as well that many Jews will emigrate back to
Europe or the USA, or, maybe even to Russia. It is not improbable that
Jewish-Arabian state may gradually come into being in this region.
The Jews chose not the best decision for themselves in the Near East… I mean
building Israeli state, Exodus. Hundred years were years of Jewish revival in
Israel. The Jews have achieved very powerful national identification and
solidarity. The Jews have turned into a powerful national state. But it is not
so evident that under universal civilization crisis they will be able to prolong
their existence for another century.
The decision to build a Jewish state was inevitable within the frame of
European civilization. It was connected with anti-Semitism of the
19th—early 20th centuries, with genocide during the years
of fascism—and Jews practically had no other choice. They had to find the way
out. This way they found. But on the other hand, suppose Jews would have
followed another way, the way of integration— Why were Jews able to retain their
nation? Because they were isolated, rigid, they did not absorb other cultural
influences. Only in the second half of the 19th and the
20th centuries they began to assimilate and integrate into the
societies they lived in. Besides assimilation, the 19th century and
the greater part of the 20th century did not give other
opportunities. So, this rigidness of Jews, their cultural isolation let them
retain their national identity, their own religion and build a theocratic state
of their own on the basement preserved for thousands of years. But their
isolation in the globalizing world is a negative factor. To live in the
globalizing world and solve the problems of the Near East, Jews will have to
stop their isolation and start to integrate into the universal civilization
process, into the process of creating a global civilization. It is taking place
now in Israel—but during the 19th century the Jews have lost a unique
chance to become a great world nation.
Look at the marvelous Jewish talents! Look at the great number of writers,
artists, musicians, scientists, politicians—absolutely brilliant! But having
gathered in Israel they created a provincial state, where these great talents
tilled the desert. Probably they prepared the conditions for the future powerful
outburst. Looking at our Russian Jews entering modern Israel and bringing there
Soviet system of education I see that they have a chance to build an absolutely
brilliant state. But will they be left time to realize this chance?
…They were brought for centuries on a very rigid religious system, translated
it from generation to generation. This rigid religion treated other nations and
religions with despise. This is the reason of why anti-Semitism is so widely
spread all over the world. It was their rigidness, isolation, adherence to their
own position which aroused anti-Semitism everywhere. We can condemn Russians for
anti-Semitism, we can condemn the Polish, Germans, the Spanish, Englishmen,
Arabs—everybody. But there is a question: why does anti-Semitism exist
everywhere where there are Jews? There are Russians everywhere, they are
dispersed all over the world—but there are no anti-Russian moods. Ukrainians are
spread all over the world—anti-Ukrainian moods exist in some places, in some
places they do not, but it is not an obligatory feature. Presence of Jews
practically always means anti-Semitism. Their rigidness retained them as a
nation. If it had not been for the rigidness, they would have long ago dissolved
in the world—while they remained, and remained as a great ethnos.
But their rigidness finally leads them to their falling back,
provincialization. Had they followed the path of assimilation, integration,
europeization in the 19th-20th centuries, they could play
a much greater role in the history of mankind…
Nevertheless—they made an attempt to arrange their world in a very hard
region, with exhausting resources, with a huge unfriendly population, in a
desperate situation, with scanty resources of their own. And they have shown the
world a fantastical example of not just ability to survive—a fantastical example
of success! And after this success they faced problems which may bring them to
death. To a certain degree a global situation of the 21st century was
modeled in Israel. Today all the European world finds itself in the same
situation as Israel does. Europeans, people of the West, win everywhere—and
retreat, because they cannot win completely. They can win exterminating every
living thing, but their inner human dignity won’t allow them to do it. The more
so, if they will act in this manner—as they are acting in Iraq—they will receive
such resistance which they will be unable to cope with. This is the great
meaning of what is going on in Israel.
And returning to our initial point, we get a very simple thing: will Israel
be able to find an algorithm of long-term survival in this crisis situation or
not? If Israel does not survive it is an omen that the Western world will be
ruined. Israel is not a European country, it is surrounded by Islam. While
Europeans are surrounded by Islam, by Chinese, by Latin Americans, who are very
marginalized Europeans. Then there is Africa, huge growing Africa. All these
worlds surround Europe.
Only one out of six men on the Earth belongs to the notorious “Golden
Billion” presently. By the middle of the century the figure will drop to one out
of ten, and he will posses the overwhelming part of the world resources. While
the rest of the world will be developed enough and will be hardly willing to
remain content with the situation. This is a problem. And Israel is trying to
find a decision. And the whole world should be keenly interested in finding the
decision. To my mind, the right decision lies within the frames of political
sphere. The only way out is in the consensus between Palestinians and Israeli.
There is no other way. But the same way should serve an example for Europe and
Western civilization as a whole in their search for their own modus of survival.
E. Schwarts: Do you think that Israeli politicians have sufficiently deep
understanding for such a task?
V.Igrunov: I’d like to distract here. I’ve said today that Putin often makes
statements which are close to my own ideas, while his councilors suggest much
stricter statements, much more aggressive steps. Why is Putting doing this? Is
his understanding at the level of the problematic? I think, it is not. But Putin
has to sit at the table and talk with those politicians who oppose him:
Yushchenko, Saakashvili etc. And he won’t have a heart to do something beyond
certain border. I think that the same situation is taking place in Israel:
probably they do not comprehend that they are the world leaders in a certain
sense. But they find themselves in the situation when they meet face to face
with the enemy, and they intuitively, as humans, are trying to solve the
problem, which is not fully realized at the intellectual level, at least by the
majority of them.
E.Schwarts: But Sharon has to overcome an enormous resistance of a big part
of his nation, to act against their will—and nevertheless he is doing
V.Igrunov: Yes, he is. But I think he is solving merely an Israeli problem,
not a global one. To my mind, he does not think at all of global models. He is
thinking of Israel’s survival. But his behavior models the global situation.
The most important thing is that Israel must find partners in Arabian elites.
Israel should not speak to Arabs as if it they were younger brothers. The words
“Arabs do not dare to consume as much water as Israel does. If they try to we
will open fire” are no longer possible. Instead of such words understanding
that Israeli and Arabs are in one boat is needed. Therefore they together must
be working at the decision. Israel has its own opportunities to settle the
problem, and Arabs have theirs. Both sides have their own opportunities to
dominate in the region. But only when the elites will be able to solve this
problem as their common problem they will get the chance to survive. If they do
not find common language, if they keep doing everything by themselves, as they
are withdrawing their troops now in a one-sided mode, they may only postpone
their ruin, but not escape it.
A.Sharomov: In case clashes continue and they will certainly continue, will
the West put pressure upon Arabs?
V.Igrunov: I may say that the USA and only the USA can play there a dominant
role. The USA have already refused from the norms worked out in the
20th century and they think that “he is right who is stronger”. So,
they rely solely on their strength regardless of any humanistic ideas or balance
of powers. They are dominating and they will exercise their power. They are
acting in the way Mongols and Tatars acted, as Bulgarians, Magyars acted. But
the thing is that, as any other great empire, they will sooner or later exhaust
themselves under the burden of problems they are creating. This has happened so
many times in human history. The only country which did not solve its problems
in that way, China, retained its empire uninterruptedly. Therefore, if the USA
want to stay in this world they must refuse from their pattern of behavior. And
they will refuse from it sooner or later.
European Union and Russia are too weak even supported by China. Today there
is no other country in the world capable of real resistance to American
despotism. American despotism is only limited by their own potential. Look—they
were unable to cope with their “Catherine”. They could send hundreds of
thousands of people to the Persian Gulf, but they could not save thousands of
people in their own land. And many blame them that they sent their troops to
Asia instead of spending this money on repairing the dam and so on. This is one
of examples of the cultural catastrophe I am speaking about.
The greater number of such points of responsibility they have, the sooner
this catastrophe will befall. Add here Iran. Iran will show such a
resistance!—Shiites will be involved there, be sure, in case Americans will try
to interfere— And while the plains of Iraq make tank intrusion possible, the
mountains of Iran do not. Let them only try, and they will receive a good
answer, both there and in their own country.
When the USA began fighting in Afghanistan after September 11, I said that
contemporary Islamic terrorism is very similar to our Russian
19th-century terrorism of “Narodnaya Volya”: people from
non-aristocratic families, after they received education, were most anxious
about those members of their class who were deprived of that happiness which
they themselves had had. Therefore these people who will leave the Third World
for more civilized countries—civilized countries are interested in the
intellectual resource which is the most profitable thing—these people will feel
solidarity with their former countrymen, coreligionists, with their homeland.
And they will create terrorist organizations inside the countries which gave
them shelter. Unfortunately, I turned to be a bad prophet because we see this
very situation in England: people born in England, who received their education
in England and found quite a good job there, became terrorists and arranged acts
of terrorism in the Underground.
Russia is the first victim of this sort of instability. This
instability will spread to our territory. It is already working in the North
Caucasus. The situation is running away. China is in a better situation. China
may calmly wait till the rest of the world is ruined. “American imperialism is a
paper tiger”,--Mao Dze Dun used to say.
Chinese can wait. To a certain degree, Mao Dze Dun’s strategy “without
atomic bomb” is advantageous for China today. But—there is a problem. It is
not improbable that, if China will wait too long, while Europe or the entire
Western world will be crashed in catastrophe, the nuclear weapons of the Golden
Billion may work. Or something else. China will suffer as well. We live on one
planet. And it is too small for such a catastrophe which may befall the West.
China has a relatively convenient position—geographically. Even Americans have.
Sooner or later they will cope with their terrorist organizations like we did in
Russia in the 19th century. And having caused the catastrophe in the
Old World they may isolate themselves within their borders, while we, Russia and
then Europe, will have to disentangle all this stuff.
Viatcheslav Igrunov answered the questions of IGPI experts A.Sharomov and
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