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V. Igrunov. Interview, September 2005.

“If Israel does not survive it is an omen that the Western civilization will be ruined”


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 First of all, the Jews have withdrawn from the territory which they had taken by weapon, which they initially did not plan to secede and which they seceded after all.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 Cairo?

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 people.

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 catastrophe.

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 it.

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 E.Schwarts.


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