Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

An American Jew’s Bold New Plan for a Sane, Peaceful and Prosperous State of Palestine (part 9)…by Robert M. Katzman

An American Jew’s Bold New Plan for a Sane, 

Peaceful and Prosperous State of Palestine

(part 9)

© by Robert M. Katzman

Man, I ain’t no dreamer—R. Katzman

Published May 18th, 2007 in honor of my father, Israel, on the seventh anniversary of his death, at age 87. I chose to not update the statistics because they aren’t the point of this article. This is about ideas. About change.

First, some background: My family came to America between 1902 and 1916 from Eastern Europe, where some of my immediate ancestors were murdered during the World War One years and the rest by Hitler later. They were non-combatants. I grew up with grim tales of unending, irrational persecution and in sync with my left-of-center politics beginning in the later Sixties, I wouldn’t wish that kind of terror and life on anyone.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and never met any Middle-Eastern people. The neighborhood was Polish-Jewish-Irish. In 1968, at seventeen, I was severely beaten by two plain-clothes Chicago cops, handcuffed, thrown in a paddy wagon and booked for resisting arrest. What soon became apparent was that I had been assaulted by mistake because to the two cops who captured me, I evidently looked like a local Arab youth they were unsuccessfully pursuing who was suspected of numerous breaking and entering incidents. I was eventually released and went immediately to a hospital, but none of my subsequent antagonism was aimed at the Arab teen I was supposedly resembled. Also, no one says “paddy wagon” anymore because it is considered a slur against Irish cops, but that wasn’t true when I was arrested.

Over the course of my varied career, I never had any conflict with any person with roots in the areas around Israel. I have no prejudice and never had any difficulties with someone being a Muslim, or any other religion. Even when terrorist-inspired fears to the airlines caused me to be endlessly pulled out of line at airports to be scanned by metal detectors, and/or have my luggage searched, I never blamed Arabs whom I must closely resemble or why would so many people agree about that?

The point is, I’m fair and rational and don’t judge other people or nations collectively for any evil acts that may have occurred in history, or to my family, or to Israel. Otherwise, you have to hate someone, somewhere, all of the time and that uses up a lot of energy, pointlessly. The co-writer of this blog, Rick Munden, and I went to Israel in May, 2000. We had different adventures and a very good experience overall. The times we were in the company of Palestinians, or in their neighborhoods or cities we were treated very well, with courtesy and respect. At worst, indifference.

We even took a side trip to legendary Petra in Jordan, spending the whole day traveling through southwestern Jordan on a bus and touring amazing sights. That day was the longest continuous time I was ever in the company of people from the Middle East who weren’t Jewish. The experience was unforgettable and the many Bedouins we encountered and Jordanians were more than civil to Rick and I. They were friendly and talkative. I would go back again. l believe Rick would as well without any reservations.

How Jewish am I? Well, I went to Hebrew school from 1958 to 1963. I had a bar mitzvah. I am very aware of the culture my grandparents left and brought with them, as well as what I have learned about the history of my people on my own, over the last forty years. My Norwegian-Danish American wife converted to Judaism on her own in 1977. Today I belong to a vibrant Temple near Chicago where I’m actively involved and am part of a Talmud study class. My ten-year old daughter, Sarah, goes to Hebrew School there as well. I like the atmosphere and I celebrate the major Jewish holidays several times a year. So, in short, I have a clear and very positive Jewish identity.

That fact doesn’t require me to hate Arabs, or Palestinians or any other group that has conflicts with Israel. Mostly, I feel continuous sorrow for the insanity and the madness that makes its home in Israel, Palestine, Gaza and the angry countries north, east and south both near and also farther away.

I came up with this idea that might please all sides. Maybe it’s so simple no one will give it a second thought. But that would be a big mistake. The people in those explosive areas could have a better life than blowing up each other’s children, soldiers, tourists, news people, doctors, and elected officials. If you think my idea has any validity, tell someone else to read it. Maybe, just maybe, the person who could set the wheels in motion to make this plan get going will read it and think to him or herself:

“Damn! This makes so much sense. And it’s so uncomplicated and fair to all sides, too.”
I’d better call my Congressman/ Senator/ Mover and Shaker right away!”

So, this is Chicago Bob’s Plan for Peace in Israel and Palestine:

People say, “Think outside of the box”. How about thinking “Outside of the country?” Why must all solutions to stop the anger and begin a cooperative relationship between Israel and Palestine be contained within the small borders of those countries?

Israel is about the size of New Jersey or Wales, about 7,000 sq. miles and has about 7,000,000 people. Palestine, presently located within Israel, has about 2,263 sq. miles with a population of 3,570,000 people crammed into that tiny place, the size of Delaware. Jordan, immediately to the east of both of those countries is mostly empty desert, 34,445 sq. miles of sand, a little smaller than Indiana, with a population of 5,160,000 people, two million less than Israel but living in five times the space. Or 1.5 million more than Palestine in over 15 times the space. I feel there is room for creativity here that will benefit all parties and stop all the shooting.

After all, the countries which I speak of were created by the British or the French victors of World War One 90 years ago in their present forms and borders. Certainly most anyone can do the job better than the British or the French! God did not draw those borders. Men did.

If all emotion is kept out of this and the overview is one of logic, fairness, safety, innovation, equal access to fresh water, business development, the contentment of all fifteen million plus persons currently living in those 44,000 sq. miles a willingness of all parties to start fresh, then there’s no reason the following reallocation of land can’t work successfully.

Upfront, I know that I can’t solve the religious conflicts, and mostly that involves Jerusalem. But if all other matters seem reasonable, then people of good will can work that out in a less poisoned atmosphere. Hopefully.

I suggest that Jordan offer to the Palestinian people an area that is almost a mirror image of Palestine’s current kidney-shaped borders, on the eastern side of Palestine’s border with Jordan, beginning immediately south of the Sea of Galilee, with the River Jordan running through the middle of the proposed new state, and the Dead Sea subdividing the bottom third of its land. That would give the new, larger Palestinian state about 5,000 sq. miles (about the size of Connecticut) because the area I suggest that Jordan contribute is slightly larger than the size of the existing West Bank. There would no longer be a “West Bank” because the Palestinians would occupy both sides of the Jordan River.

If you have a good map of Jordan, you can easily follow this next part. The coordinates of the additional eastern part of my proposed new country would be as follows, going clockwise from the north to the south, with a deep western indentation that excludes Amman, the capital of Jordan, from the new area. The cities/towns are: Fiq, Mafraq, Zarqa, (then zipping westerly in a curve around Ammon) Jiza, Daba Station, Kahn ez Zal Station, Qutrana Station, ending with Karak defining its southern perimeter with Jordan.

Why would Jordan even begin to consider the rationality of such a plan that consumes about 7% of its territory?



If Jordan were to enter the impossible to resolve political situation between Israel and Palestine, Jordan would instantly transform from being an impoverished, powerless, resource-less and politically insignificant player on the world stage to a central, historic, generous and heroic role. Wealthy, Middle-Eastern oil-rich countries would gasp in amazement…and then crash into each other trying to find ways to generously express their appreciation to “Noble Self-Sacrificing Jordan.”

The Western Powers would stand dumb-founded that this poor, powerless, odd-shaped little sandbox of a country would be so willing to be the one to volunteer the most precious missing piece of the puzzle–its land–that the stampede from the grateful European countries, the United States and Asian nations (endlessly nervous about their safe and continuous access to oil) would electrify Jordan’s meager economy virtually overnight.

What gift would be too much for the wise and kind Jordanians? None. Who would ever be allowed to harm the wise and kind Jordanians? No one. Need oil? Got it. Need water? Got it. Electricity or nuclear plants to power the country? Got it. Need some really new cities and industries to upgrade the quality of life for all of Jordan’s people?

Man, you got it!!

Jordan would go from bit-player on the world stage to front and center. America would (and should) reallocate, out of the three billion, each, it supplies to Egypt and Israel every year, a cool billion to Jordan, evenly removed from both other countries. How could they complain? Who would give a damn? Not the US Congress, since it’s merely a change of address where the money goes, but NOT an increase in spending, with very obvious benefits immediately apparent to all sides of the American political spectrum.

I haven’t forgotten about Israel in all of this, but why not address the Palestinians situation first? I have read that Jordan’s population is 70% Palestinian anyway, so if that is correct they should not be in any way hostile to seeing the lives of their brethren improved, especially if it showers a world-wide bounty on their country. But as I define Israel’s newest and one hopes very delighted eastern neighbor’s tangible improvements, and I refer to Palestine here, the implications to Israel’s safety and prosperity will become obvious.

Where would the current inhabitants of those small cities or towns in the new country of Palestine live? They could stay, if they desired to, remaining Jordanian or be granted dual-citizenship like Americans Jews are with Israel, or they could sell their homes…fairly…to the new governing body, or (more likely) be compensated by Jordan and resettled within Jordan.

Which leads me to water.

Or Water, Water Nowhere, as things stand now in these desert economies.

Why not change that? REALLY change that. If there are endless billions available on all sides for war and making war with expensive weaponry, why can’t those same resources go toward transforming the desert of both Israel and Palestine with the latest technology in water desalinization? Why couldn’t they work cooperatively to make that happen? And perhaps create two (or three) economies that would peacefully inter-twine in the process. What if all the brilliance on both sides of the new borders went toward creative solutions to environmental and human problems instead of how much infrastructure both sides could obliterate most efficiently in the next war?

Israel has the Technion and The Weitzman Institute, two of the world’s premiere research facilities. They haven’t yet figured out how to make gold out of lead, but water is more valuable than gold in the Middle East anyway. With money contributed by the surrounding wealthy nations, Israel and Palestine could jointly construct a series of giant pipelines running from the Mediterranean Sea to a point agreed upon by both states, between them, filter the salt water through the most advanced desalinization technology existing and create a freshwater lake for their joint benefit and use.

Don’t be so quick to smile, as in: “He’s really crazy, isn’t he?”

I’m not. I’m practical.

People from the South Side of Chicago have no choice. We play the hand we’re dealt.

If both countries use only their own people and companies to create this fabulous soon-to-be world famous tourist attraction, they’d be forced to cooperate. They might discover that friendship is possible between them, and the goal is so motivating, neither would allow anyone to sabotage the giant construction project. It could be used for irrigation, fishing—if it was stocked with local favorite species of hardy fish—swimming or whatever both sides wanted to use it for.

I have this idea that may seem sort of science-fiction-ish that if there was a way to build an infrastructure of supports all across the area to be designated as the new lake, then there might be a way to build a form of roof that lets in sun light, but prevented massive evaporation. If the “roof’ were high enough, air could flow through, it wouldn’t be excessively humid and water loss could be controlled.

Man has built the Panama Canal, gone to the Moon, created test-tube babies and watched the Soviet Union choose to disintegrate without a shot being fired and creating fifteen new independent countries, just like that. Why would reallocating where fresh water could exist be such a daunting goal? Not if all involved want it to happen. Not if all sides stand to gain from it. Not if the wages to construct that modern marvel went to the people who live in the countries the lake will serve.

With the world’s oceans rising, the more creative ways mankind can think of to rearrange where some of that extra water should go, is a very logical concept. I propose the new lake be called “Waters of Abraham” because both the Jews and the Moslems revere him as a common ancestor.

That was my second choice, because I really doubt “Lake Katzman” would get much support.

The more reasons Israel and Palestine/Jordan have to work together for their common good, the more ties will be forged. If they sold what each manufactured to each other, if Israel helped create complimentary and not competing industries or businesses on the east side of the Jordan, then the prosperity that was being generated by all that I have described would be perpetuated by ongoing commerce.

Maybe a new university could be built to bring a higher level of education to all the inhabitants of Palestine. Maybe Israel could send some visiting professors to teach there from their existing schools and vice-versa, to foster even more good will between the neighboring nations? Maybe professors from countries in Latin America, Asia, North America and Europe could do the same thing to increase the international ties–and friendships–between the new and internationally significant Palestine and the world, ending its spirit-killing isolation?

So, this is a group of ides that could work, if all sides want them to. One more thing, perhaps a difficult pill to swallow. But if one of these ideas I offer isn’t possible, it still doesn’t nullify the other more acceptable ideas.

Parts of this that make people crazy:

(1) The area known as the Gaza Strip should be given to Israel, for its own protection, to stop arms smuggling from Egypt, to prevent the endless shelling back and forth for irrational reasons and to bring even more peace and stability to the region. There will never be a clear safe way to tie that little scrap of land on the coast to the larger Palestinian State. No matter what idea is offered, a train in a tunnel, an airport in Palestine, a highway between them…all would be easy targets for terrorism and death. It is a knot that needs to be untied.

If a truly international governing body were to decide the fairest way to compensate the inhabitants from Gaza, and Israel wasn’t on it, and all of the Palestinian Gazans were peacefully relocated via Egypt or Jordan to the new massively enlarged Palestine nation, then they wouldn’t have to travel through Israel to get to their new homes. That might eliminate a touchy issue, too.

Also, if all the earlier proposals I offered were a good idea for the people who now live on the West Bank, wouldn’t they also be a good idea for the people in Gaza? If Israel is willingly involved in the creation of a viable new state next to it, including agriculture, infrastructure (railroads, highways, environmentally positive trash recycling and everything else…) an electrical grid, water distribution, why would the Palestinians not see Israel as a partner and friend?

(2) East Jerusalem is already the capitol of Palestine. Calling it anything else doesn’t make it anything else. Israel can make everything fail because of this impossible to reclaim bit of land. Israel: STOP IT!!

Israel, or some in Israel, may say it is the “eternal and indivisible capitol” of Israel, but Alaska used to be Russian, Manhattan after the Indians sold it used to be Dutch, Texas used to be Mexico and New Orleans was, apparently, historically and geographically, the area that could never say “no” to anyone.

A few people currently in military control of Jerusalem cannot forever torment millions because of a document which has been revised, rewritten and endlessly translated to mean whatever its writers chose to make it mean. How many mother’s children on all sides must die because of one people’s mythology? Israel, offer this as a gesture of peace. See what happens.

(3) Get all the illegal settlements established by irrational Israeli land-thieves out of Palestine, which make it becoming a contiguous sovereign state impossible. Death by a thousand settlements, one brick at a time. No fair-minded person would ever accept this “we’re stronger than you, so we’ll do as we please with your country” insult to the Palestinian people. Here’s how to do it:

Israeli soldiers dragging fervent Israeli settlers out of Palestine would never work, take too long and not test the intellectual resolve of the land-grabbers. The Israeli Parliament should make the settlers an offer they can’t refuse:

(A) Come back to Israel and integrate into society as best you can, or immigrate to some other country that you would be happier in, where the Jews are the majority population.

(B) You have sixty days to accept our offer of all-charges-dropped and return. No extensions.

(C) Stay in Palestine and you will become legal residents of that country, and ONLY that country, under their laws, subject to whatever policies Palestine may have about how to use their land, no matter what your situation may be now. No violence from the government of Palestine toward the settlers; the UN and perhaps the USA can watch all of it; Israel will tend to its own country after the sixty days have passed; the current “Jewish right-of-return-to-Israel” policy will permanently not apply to the Israelis who rejected it and chose to remain in Palestine.

(D) Let the settlers have reality imposed upon them and no longer have the freedom to do so much harm. If the settlers collectively and eventually realize that the Torah will not divinely insulate them from everyone else in the international community’s decision: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindu, Druze, Tibet, Orthodox and so on, they will be on their own and subject to their own consequences. Permanently. No guns. No police. And after sixty days, no more choice.

Friendship would create the best of all worlds. Maybe there could be a Middle-Eastern Economic Union to benefit all of them. The oil will end. And with it the current political muscle OPEC countries have because of it.

I see Assyrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Moroccans, and Egyptians all the time in my store just north of Chicago, in the middle of North America. We are friendly, talk about all kinds of things, sometimes politics, and never has anyone of them reacted negatively to the bright and shiny Jewish star around my neck. Sometimes the Palestinians are surprised I sell their green, red, white and black flag in my store, but I tell them,

“Why not? It’s a country just like all the rest.”

They smile and appreciate that obvious truth, but also my attitude as well.

It could be this way everywhere, if people valued other people’s children…and other people’s lives…as much as they do their own. I don’t hate anybody. I ask you, patient readers of my new plan, to tell other people about it, if you agree with its fairness and kindness to all involved, and see if one rational man’s idea for a better world can make any difference at all. Maybe if all of the people deciding these issues were women, it might go faster.

I pray for a free, fair and prosperous New Palestinian State, and a safe, and prosperous Israel and Jordan on either side of it, united only by friendship, goodwill and the mutual desire for uninterrupted peace.

Peace, be with all of us.


Driving in the Dark: Lost in Israel (part 1) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3736

Bob in Israel: Crusader Castle and Caraway Seeds (part 2) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3748

Joy’s Ashes in Israel: An Independent Woman (part 3) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3761

Marsha Michael, Who Solved My Problems in Israel (part 4) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3771

Tel Aviv, Israeli radio and Unexpected Art (part 5) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3796

Vad Yashem: Killing Millions of Children (part 6) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3811

Chicago man Watches Death of Samurais in Israel (part 7)//www.differentslants.com/?p=3846

Traveling Alone, Traveling Together (part 8) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3865

An American Jew’s Bold New Plan for a Sane, Peaceful and Prosperous State of Palestine (part 9) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3887

David’s Star in Israel (part 10) //www.differentslants.co/?p=3907

Sleeping With the Bedouins (part 11-a) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3962

Pleading with Fate in Jerusalem (part 12) https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3980


Comment by bruce

November 16, 2017 @ 4:30 am

if this works, perhaps we could put all the American white supremacist in the trump towers under their own government and call it oh, maybe, whiteystine????? and all the angry minorities that want them flayed alive…just STOP!

Comment by Charlie Newman

November 16, 2017 @ 1:28 pm

you know…ideas like this wouldn’t be needed if huiman-kind were even the slightest bit rational, which it isn’t but—hey—whoever said it’s the thought that counts said it for times like this…when the thoughts do count

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>