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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Dr. Mordechai Nisan, a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He continues to teach in other educational institutions on topics ranging from the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islam, Israel, Lebanon, and Minorities in the Mideast. He is the author of the new book, Only Israel West of the River.
FP: Dr. Mordechai Nisan, welcome to Frontpage Interview
Thank you for having me.
Congratulations on your new book. What inspired you to write it and why did you write it now in 2011?
Nisan: Thanks Jamie.
There is a significant erosion in the world and in Israel itself of belief in the justice of Zionism and Israel as a legitimate Jewish state. I felt that the charges of racism and illegal occupation had to be met in a reasoned fashion, so I mobilized arguments on behalf of Israel’s cause. In 2011, we witness the Palestinian diplomatic campaign for statehood, and this idea focused on the territories of Judea and Samaria – what the world calls the West Bank. It is a grave threat to Israel’s welfare. My response is a timely and I hope effective defense of Israel’s national rights and explanation of her political and security predicament.
FP: What is the major theme of the book?
Nisan: The predominant theme is that Israel is justifiably in control of all of Jerusalem and the territories as a historical homeland and national space for fulfilling Israel’s development and growth. This converges with my argument against a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, a state that would destabilize the situation on the ground, catalyze tension and terrorism, radicalize the Arabs in Israel, demoralize Israel’s population, and raise doubts about the country’s stamina to face the Palestinian push to the sea. It is the Palestinian state idea that will excite popular Palestinian passions that Israel is on the way down and that the future is with the Palestinians.
FP: How does this book fit into the range of your other research and writing concerns?
Nisan: I have written on Israel from the start of my research with a focus on the Arab challenge to the Jewish state. So this book is a continuation and application of my thinking given the present circumstances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But my broader research concerns and writings, like minority peoples and Lebanon, have sensitized me to the fragility of small peoples in the Muslim/Arab dominated Middle East. As a small people in an Arab sea, the Jews of Israel will always face demanding challenges to preserve their identity and cultivate their resourcefulness in pursuing the modern Israel national venture.
FP: What do you make of Abbas? How is he different from the leaders of Hamas?
Nisan: Coming after the passing of flamboyant and legendary Fatah-founder Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas has to try and make his individual political mark. He has adopted the political discourse of peace-making with Israel, but without ever abandoning the essential Palestinian demands, like refugee return, which are designed to destroy Israel from within. Without any doubt, leading the Fatah movement, the PLO, and the Palestinian Authority, Abbas shares with Hamas the long-term Palestinian goal to destroy Israel. Hamas uses an Islamic idiom and a Sharia-based policy agenda, while the Abbas-run PLO/PA apparatus plays to the Western audience, media outlets, and the Israeli public. The deceiving and pugnacious Abbas is a far greater danger and threat to Israel than Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, a transparent enemy of Israel.
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