[Interview] Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: Israeli Leader Discusses US Elections, Israel’s Future
Election day in the United States is a week away and the results will have far-reaching effects for the future of many nations. The Middle East is on the brink and Israelis are waiting for the election results with great concern. What do Israeli’s think about the two candidates for President of the United States? How will their lives be affected by the choice of American voters? These are important questions and to find the answers, The Inquisitr spoke with Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a prominent Israeli leader. Dr.Gerstenfeld offers a view of the Israeli – American relationship untainted by politics as usual. He is first and foremost a scholar, who grew up in World War Two Europe, survived the horrors of the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel after the Six Day War of 1967. He is uniquely qualified to offer a balanced opinion on the often turbulent relationship between two powerful allies who, despite their occasional feuds, share a strong mutual interest.
Dr. Gerstenfeld knows how important the upcoming elections are to each and every Israeli. The citizens of the Jewish state cherish the support and friendship of the American people. Like all Israeli’s, he is aware that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have made Israel an important part of their foreign policy. Mr. Romney has been highly critical of President Obama, blaming him for “throwing Israel under the bus” and allowing radical Islamists to takeover one Middle Eastern nation after the other. President Obama says “he has Israel’s back” and claims to be the strongest supporter the beleaguered Jewish state has ever had in the White House.
The relationship between Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama has been riddled with mutual distrust. Netanyahu has been accused of simply stalling the peace process until after the 2012 election, in hope that Obama would be replaced with someone more favorable to Israel’s position. Netanyahu made it clear Israel will never divide the city of Jerusalem, return to indefensible 1948 armistice lines or allow millions of Palestinians the right of return to Israel. The pressure on Israel is building, Iran is moving ever closer to joining the nuclear club, and missiles continue to launch from Gaza into Israel on a daily basis.
During his years on the board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dr. Gerstenfeld has come to know many of the movers and shakers in Israeli politics. His insights and observations reveal a view of the region and the world that is not often heard from Israel’s leaders. Wolff Bachner spoke at length with Dr. Gerstenfeld about the US elections, the Arab- Israeli conflict and the problems facing the Jewish population of Europe. We present a most revealing conversation with one the great minds of our time; Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Dr. Gerstenfeld, you have lived in Israel for many years, you have written extensively about Jewish life and Antisemitism, and you are a member of the board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
As someone who is in touch with the pulse of Israeli life and well acquainted with the political climate, how would you describe the present relationship between Israel and the Obama Administration?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
President Obama’s administration has been supportive of Israel, after an initially hesitant period. In matters such as supplying military equipment, fighting the cyber war and broad strategic collaboration, there seems to be a common understanding between the administration and Israel. From time to time this cooperation has been praised by Israel’s senior leaders. The United States has also consistently supported Israel in the United Nations.
Regarding government actions against Iran, the Obama administration has been much more hesitant than a Romney administration is likely to be. For Israel, a very supportive role undertaken by the U.S, including militarily against Iran, can be a matter of life and death.
As far as individual action is concerned, President Obama personally intervened in the life-threatening situation of the Egyptian mob attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo in September 2011. That was an important act of personal support.
President Obama is very fond of appearing before Jewish groups and proclaiming “I have Israel’s back.”
Do you feel that President Obama has been a true friend of Israel and that he is a strong supporter of Israel?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Romney’s claim that Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus” is not justified by the facts. The international political position of the United States under President Obama has however, undoubtedly gotten much weaker, which is very bad for Israel. Part of America’s weakness may well be due to perception. In such cases, perception becomes reality to a large extent. It invites provocation by the U.S.’s enemies. One sees this clearly in the attitude of the Iranian leaders, the world’s leading supporters of terrorism.
President Obama’s Achilles’ heel is that he seems to hold a far too rosy view of the situation in the Muslim world. His speech given in Cairo in 2009 expressed apologetics and appeasement to the Muslim world, at the same time understating the major criminality within it. It was also full of omissions of major facts.
President Obama applied double standards through these omissions. He said that it was time to put a halt to Israeli settlements. He did not say “It is time for Egypt and many other Muslim states to stop anti-Semitic incitement against the Jews. This hate-mongering is also very strong in Egyptian government media. It is widely spread and was equaled only by Nazi Germany.” He did not say, “Stop the death penalty.” When he spoke about equality for women he did not say, “In many Muslim countries there are extreme cases of discrimination against women. This has to be stopped immediately.” He did not speak about the incitement against and persecution of Christians in a variety of Muslim countries. He avoided asking clearly “Why is the world of Islam far more violent than that of any other religion? What does that tell us about contemporary Islam?” Nor did he say, “We have not seen any single terror attack driven by the religious conviction of major criminals similar to 9/11 in the new century.”
Another omission was when he stated that civilization owed a debt to Al Azhar without mentioning that prominent clerics there support suicide terrorism. When he spoke about the Palestinians he said that “the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” That statement contains many fallacies. The largest part by far of the Palestinian Mandate is Jordan, which is a state with a Palestinian majority. The Palestinians were granted a second state through a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1947. Yet it was not good enough for them and their Arab allies. They preferred to start a war to attempt to massacre the Jews in what became Israel. Until 1967, they could have publicly asked their Arab “brethren” for a second state when the Palestinian territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt. After the Arab defeat in 1967, the Palestinians could have had their own state again, but preferred to continue their fight to eliminate Israel. While President Obama didn’t mention the suffering of Christians in Muslim lands, as far as the Palestinians were concerned, he did mention Palestinian Christians, without stating that their main suffering was caused by Palestinian Muslims.
President Obama also said things about the Muslim world in his Cairo speech which were closer to lies than to half-truths. To state that “in our times many Muslim communities have been in the forefront of innovation” does not reflect the reality of the Muslim world. Tiny Israel has won more Nobel prizes than all Muslims together, while there are about two hundred times more Muslims than Israelis.
The only field in which major innovation has emerged from parts of the Muslim world is ‘creative terrorism.’ In this framework the Palestinians have also made a substantial contribution in inventing new modes of terror. If there were a Nobel prize for terrorism, prime candidates for it would be Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and various other Palestinian groupings as well as the initiators of 9/11.
During the revolutions in various Arab countries, President Obama also came across as hesitant. He dumped a loyal ally, President Husni Mubarak. Those who replaced him in Egypt come out of a hate-mongering movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Former Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel, an expert on Arab politics said in an interview: “The rise to power in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood brings to the fore a movement in which Jew-hate is inherent. This organization was founded in 1928 in Egypt by a school teacher, Hassan Al-Banna as a Pan-Islamic Movement. It developed a Muslim version of Nazi anti-Semitism. It saw to it that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was translated into Arabic under the title ‘My Jihad.’ Other Nazi anti-Semitic publications were also translated. Cartoons found in the Nazi hate paper Der Stuermer were changed to present the Jews as the satanic enemy of Allah, rather than of the German people.”
A recently detailed investigation published by Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism found that many known radical Muslims made hundreds of visits to the Obama White House, meeting with top administration officials. That is also worrying.
In light of widespread genocidal views against Israel in the Muslim world, any sign of the United States’ weakness or appearing apologetic toward these societies are negative for Israel.
Initially there was also some concern because the Obamas’ longtime pastor in Chicago was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is an anti-Israeli and has made anti-Semitic remarks. That unease has since disappeared.
The word “friend” is something I am reluctant to use in a political analysis. Many of President Obama’s actions have been supportive of Israel. Yet they have not had much effect among Israeli Jews due to his image of an internationally weak president, who looks away from the many crimes in the Muslim world.
It is probably due to his attitude toward highly problematic Muslims and the betrayal of long time political allies that a significant percentage of Israelis continue to feel uncomfortable with President Obama. They wonder to what extent he has genuinely abandoned the appeasing and apologetic spirit he expressed in Cairo, or whether much of it will re-appear if he is re-elected. These feelings are quite common in Israel despite the substantial support President Obama has given to Israel. A few days ago, a poll posed the question, who would be preferable as far as Israeli interests were concerned? Fifty-seven percent of Israeli Jews preferred Romney, while 22% said Obama. Among Israeli Arabs, Obama was the preferred candidate.
What do you foresee in the future for Israeli-American relations if Obama is re-elected?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Those who claim that they can foresee the essence of an American president’s policy during a four year period are fooling their audiences. We live in very dynamic times. One only has to remember that four years ago two huge determinant events which took place in this period were entirely unforeseen. One was the world economic crisis for which the European Union and various European countries must take the greatest responsibility. The second one is the Arab revolutions which have increased the already significant power of fanatic hate-mongering Muslim forces, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists.
Even though much depends on a president’s administration, the question also is what inputs are there from the president? President Obama does not seem to have an advanced understanding of economics. This is a handicap as there will be many other developments in the global economic crisis, which will require American action.
The next U.S. president will also have to deal with future developments in the Arab world. Regarding the Muslim issue and largely due to his personal background, he is not the appropriate person to be expected to act vigorously enough against the multiple forces in the Islamic world which endanger the Western one. His weakness on these two major issues can be much more dangerous to Israel indirectly than specific actions he might undertake which Israel may not approve of.
Mitt Romney is an outspoken supporter of Israel and a personal friend of many of Israel’s leaders. His support for Israel, judging from his speeches and past deeds, appears to be much stronger than that of President Obama.
Do you feel Romney is truly a supporter of Israel and is he a stronger supporter of Israel than Obama?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Much less is known about Mitt Romney than about President Obama. Personal friendships are important, but even more important are the actions a president will undertake. At present, this involves the two major issues mentioned – economics and terrorism, hate-mongering and other criminality emanating from in the Muslim world. As said, much depends on the executives a president chooses for his administration. Romney however, will probably grasp economic issues better than Obama. Romney is also likely to approach the Muslim world in a more realistic way than President Obama has. He also understands that the U.S. has not only been weakened under President Obama, but that the U.S. is also perceived as such. For Romney, strengthening the global image of the U.S. is likely to become a top priority. These attitudes will benefit Israel.
If Romney defeats Obama and becomes the next President, how do you think his policies might differ from Mr. Obama’s?
What can Romney do for Israel to improve the Jewish nation’s future and standing in the world?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
If Romney wins the election, it is likely that he will make economic measures his priority, and be very aware of the need to cut America’s deficit. He will also take far stronger measures against Muslim extremists. He may even explicitly say the truth – that fanaticism and hate-mongering in the Muslim world goes far beyond Islamists and other defined radicals. He may even mention another truth – that the greatest external threat nowadays to Western democracy comes out of the Muslim world. Apologies for American attitudes toward radicals are unlikely to be part of his program. Even if he simply talks tougher than Obama, that is already a plus because it has an influence on perceptions.
Romney can do much for Israel’s standing in the world, for instance by exposing many of the widespread evils in Muslim societies. However, much of the burden of this should fall upon the next Israeli government after the January 2013 elections. Previous Israeli governments have been successful in military wars, but failed to a large extent in fighting this intense propaganda war.
One important thing Romney could do immediately is to try to bring Iran and its leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before an International Court. To prevent future genocide, which is the greatest crime in the world, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948 – better known as the UN Genocide Convention – was adopted. It includes conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit it, as justifications to bring people before an international court.
The American left is becoming increasingly hostile to Israel. They are defending the Palestinians and portraying Israel as a vicious bully brutalizing the helpless Palestinians. The favorite comment from those in America opposed to supporting Israel against Iranian nuclear ambitions is to say Israeli Jews just want Americans to fight and die for them.
What would you like to say to those Americans who make such comments?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Many of those on the extreme left are Trojan horses in democracy. The Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega Y Gasset said that “Civilization is nothing else than the attempt to reduce force to being the last resort.” For democrats, violence is a last resort measure; for barbarians, it is the very first measure. Palestinians as well as many Arab states are now fighting what seems to be a peaceful propaganda war against Israel because they have failed in their many violent past attempts through wars, intifadas, suicide bombings, etc.
The Palestinian Authority keeps glorifying one murderer of Israeli civilians after another. American leftists and others who support the Palestinians either intentionally close their eyes to the Palestinian cult of death and crime, or they actually approve of it. It is part of their undermining of the basics of democracy, including the universal declaration of human rights, which is based on the concept that all people are equal and responsible for their deeds.
Many of these so-called “progressive” Americans are what I term “humanitarian racists.” They believe that only white people and some powerful non-whites should be held responsible for their acts. They thus look away from the crimes of non-whites, unless they happen to be very powerful. Once you say that certain people are not responsible for their acts, you come very close to equating them with animals, who also do not bear this responsibility.
It is in America’s own interest to stop Iran’s nuclear program because Israel may not even be Iran’s main target. American allies in the Middle East and other American interests could very well be. Many American self-haters would probably approve of such attacks to some extent.
Iran has been making threats against Israel for more than two decades now; even going as far as to call Israel a cancer that needs to be eliminated from the earth.
How great a threat do you think Iran is to Israel?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Ideological fanaticism and anti-Israelism in Iran and many other Muslim states is so widespread that if they could wipe Israel out, they would do that. Therefore, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, this threat becomes realistic. This the more so because fanatic currents in the Muslim world are willing to sacrifice substantial parts of their own population to murder others, and in particular Israelis. In 2002, then-Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said: “If one day…the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel’s possession [i.e., nuclear weapons]—on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This…is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.”
The Jewish people have prayed “Next year in Jerusalem” for almost 2000 years. Most Jews become literally heartsick at the thought of a divided Jerusalem, with half of the city in the hands of people who spent the last 63 years killing Jews, ruled by an organization founded by a terrorist named Arafat.
Can you ever imagine a divided Jerusalem and why should any Jew be willing to support such a destructive policy?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
A previous Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak from the Labor Party, offered to Arafat to divide Jerusalem. Israelis should be happy that Arafat refused this offer. Otherwise, there would be a serious chance that citizens of Jerusalem would have been under rocket attacks like Israelis in the south frequently find themselves, including in recent days.
Amongst the Jewish people there are strong strains of masochism, for historic — including religious — reasons. Jewish self-hate is a phenomenon which has existed for a long time and nowadays it is seen in Israel also. I often have to explain how Jews can be anti-Semites. The answer is simple – one can take a text or statement, not knowing who the author is – whether he is an atheist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Jew and analyze whether it is anti-Semitic. If it is, then the author is an anti-Semite.
One finds Jewish masochists, self-haters and anti-Semites in far from insignificant numbers among Israelis and other Jews. For instance among academics, and there mainly in the humanities. The same is true within several Israeli and Jewish NGO’s, who falsely call themselves “humanitarians.”
Recently in Europe, there was a major uproar when Twitter announced it was deleting hundreds of anti-Semitic Tweets. The level of attacks on European Jews has increased to frightening numbers and many religious Jews are afraid to even appear in public wearing a Kippah.
As a world renowned authority on Jew hate in Europe, just how dangerous is life for Europe’s Jews today, vis a vis open antisemitism and threats against their safety?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
The situation in Europe differs from country to country and from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. Several experts consider the third largest Swedish town Malmö as the capital of anti-Semitism in Europe. A substantial part of the Jewish community there has left it in the past decade. This situation is a result of physical and verbal violence mainly emanating from parts of the large Muslim community. It is aggravated by the fact that the Social Democrat Mayor of the town is a part-time anti-Semite. In other Swedish towns, the situation is less severe.
Broadly speaking, there are many threats to Jewish communities beyond the physical and verbal attacks. Long-held Jewish religious customs such as ritual slaughter and circumcision are also under major attack in several European countries.
There has been a massive influx of Muslims to Europe and the hostility expressed towards Jews, especially by Muslim youths, is open and often violent. European societies have embraced multiculturalism and rejected the nation state. Several European nations have attempted to outlaw circumcision and politicians have even suggested that Jews should stop appearing so “Jewish” or leave if they want to be safe.
Are we witnessing a rebirth of the Jew hate of 1938 Europe?
Do you see a future for the Jews of Europe or has time finally come for Europe’s Jews to emigrate to Israel for their own safety?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
It was a grand mistake to think that the impact of the atrocities of the Holocaust in Europe would lead to the disappearance of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is an integral part of European culture. This does not mean that most Europeans are anti-Semites. They are not. Most founding fathers of European thought were anti-Semites, such as in the Catholic Church, the humanist Erasmus, the Protestant reformer Martin Luther, Voltaire, many German philosophers and so on.
Two developments have taken place in the last decades. The first one is that anti-Semitism which became latent after the Holocaust is now re-emerging. It would be mistaken to think that this is solely due to the non-selective mass immigration from Muslim countries.
This non-selective immigration of Muslims into Europe has however, been the most distressing event for European Jewry in the last 50 years. Populations have migrated into Europe among which the percentage of anti-Semites is usually substantially larger than among the autochthonous population. Among these immigrants and their descendents, one also finds greater extremists than among original residents.
When in March 2012 Muslim Mohammed Merah murdered three French soldiers, a teacher of a Jewish school and three young students, shock traveled not only through French Jewry, but also through many other Jewish organizations. Many Jewish communities have to pay much for all or part of their security from their own pockets. In many European countries, governments are unwilling to pay for the necessary security.
Schools that I had attended in Amsterdam as a youngster now resemble fortresses. Other schools in the town do not have to fortify themselves and don’t.
Often, Muslims are disproportionately represented among the most violent physical attackers of Jews. The alienation of third or fourth generation descendents of Muslims in many cases is much larger than that of the initial immigrants. This is very worrying for European Jews. However, as Jews are usually among the first victims, they are never the last. Many in Europe, out of false political correctness, close their eyes to this threat.
The majority of active anti-Semites are however, usually non-Muslims. For instance, much has been written about the murder of Norwegian youngsters at the camp in Utoya by the criminal Anders Breivik. Little else has been published about this camp of the youth movement of the Labor Party which was a place where children from 14 years and older were incited by party hate-mongers against Israel. The Labor Party led by Prime Minister Stoltenberg is the largest party in the country. Leading Norwegian non-fiction writer Hanne Nabintu Herland considers her country “the most anti-Semitic in the Western world.”
Even more worrisome is the emergence of political parties in European countries with many neo-fascist and neo-Nazi elements. This becomes particularly problematic when these parties enter Parliament.
In the new century, this problem has risen to the fore again with great force. One clear case is Hungary. Its neo-fascist and anti-Semitic Jobbik Party has received nearly 17 percent of votes in the 2010 parliamentary elections. It is presently the third largest party in Hungary.
More recently in Greece the Golden Dawn movement, a Neo-Nazi movement, increased its power in a major way. It won seats in parliament during both elections of 2012. By autumn 2012, it received 14% in opinion polls. If this were to be the case in the next elections, it would become the third largest party in Greece. A few days ago, one of its parliamentarians read aloud from the major anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Greek Parliament.
Once these types of parties succeed in entering parliament, they subsequently attain international positions too. When one observes the increasing power of these parties, one is reminded of the 1930’s and wonders what will come next.
A second development is the mutation of anti-Semitism into anti-Israelism. Accusations against Israel have the same core motifs as the two classic forms of anti-Semitism – the religious and the ethnic nationalist ones. All share the belief that Jews represent evil, and for many, absolute evil.
The future for conscious Jews in Europe is not bright. In my book about the role of the Jews in Dutch society, I quoted one of the Netherlands’ leading politicians, Frits Bolkestein. He said that Jews should advise their children to move to the U.S. or Israel. His statement created huge media clamor in The Netherlands for several weeks. There is much validity in what he said, yet Jews like other people, take many factors into account when they decide where to live. These include issues such as hesitation to relocate, their broader national culture, their employment, their families and so on. Only if the situation worsens much further will we see a bigger exodus of Jews from Europe.
Is there any real hope of peace between Israel and the Arab world as long as Arab Nations continue to preach hatred of Jews and refuse to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
The word “peace” has a different meaning for Israelis and Westerners, who see in this something lasting for the foreseeable future. For many Arabs and their leaders, the word “peace” defines the intermediate stage before the desired elimination of Israel and often the extermination of many Israelis also. Polls show that a substantial percentage of Palestinians and also of people in several other Arab countries such as Egypt, share the worldview of Al Qaeda. In Palestinian parliamentary elections, the Hamas movement became the largest party. It promotes the genocide of Jews in its charter.
We should also be very wary of the attitudes of Muslim countries toward human rights. One indication of this is the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam of the Organization of Islamic Countries. It contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human rights on several important points. A much stronger indicator is the criminal behavior of many Muslim countries toward their own citizens and others. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority also fit that pattern.
How can we ever expect peace when organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood talk openly about “Mastership of the world” and liberating Jerusalem and all of Israel from the “occupying Zionist Entity” and the Palestinian Authority distributes a statehood proposal at the United Nations that removes Israel from the map of the world?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Peace with the Palestinians can at best be a temporary status. One now sees that the new Egyptian leaders are very ambiguous about their peace treaty with Israel. Israel made huge territorial concessions for this peace treaty and that fact is largely forgotten by the Egyptians. Israel’s leaders should remember this when negotiating with Palestinian leaders who glorify the murderers of Israeli civilians.
Conclusion – Reflections on the words of Dr. Gerstenfeld:
Dr. Gerstenfeld has shared a view of the world from an Israeli perspective. His words are balanced, thoughtful and, perhaps, tinged with sadness. Dr. Gerstenfeld is a realist and he knows full well the road ahead for his beloved nation of Israel is fraught with danger.
Tiny Israel is surrounded on all sides by an implacable enemy, driven by centuries of a deep hatred of Judaism and the Jewish people. While Dr. Gerstenfeld makes no attempt to whitewash the level of aggression directed towards the nation of Israel from the Arab world, he is not a warmonger. He is not a hater. His words illustrate one important truth. Israelis do not live to kill Palestinians. They do not seek to wage an endless war with their neighbors. They seek to live their lives in peace and security and they wish all the good things in life for the Palestinian people. Israelis say peace will come when the Arab states stop teaching their children to hate Jews and they stop the endless terror war against innocent Israeli civilians. The path to peace is clearly visible and it begins with the Islamic nations finally accepting one simple reality; Israel is the nation of the Jewish people and she has every right to exist in peace alongside the 56 currently recognized Islamic nations.
The future for the Jewish people of Europe, from Dr. Gerstenfeld’s point of view, is tenuous and troubling. He has a deep understanding of the situation and he makes a very valid point that European Jews are reluctant to relocate. It is to be hoped they are not voluntarily creating the new Jewish ghettos to mirror the Ghettos of 1938 Warsaw. The recent moves by several European nations to ban circumcision and Jewish ritual slaughter may turn out to be the final straw that leads to a large portion of Europe’s Jews leaving for greener pastures.
When discussing the American presidential election, Dr. Gerstenfeld is a voice of impartiality. He clearly illustrates that he has no desire to interfere, despite the accusations from those on the left that Israelis are always trying to influence the election. Dr. Gerstenfeld presents a reasoned opinion on both President Obama and Mitt Romney. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of both men and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.
Perhaps the most important words spoken by Dr. Gerstenfeld’s are his brilliant observations on the fluidity of the current situation in the Middle East. Pundits, prognosticators and politicians are always trying to spell out their solutions and make concrete plans for the future. They fear to change their minds because it may affect their standings in the polls. Dr. Gerstenfeld makes it clear that the situation is constantly evolving and good leaders must be prepared to adjust and adapt. While there is, of course, a need for an overall policy, they can not afford to become so attached to their policies that they are unwilling to change. When politicians become rigid ideologues, wars are waged and human lives are lost.
The Inquisitr thanks Dr. Gerstenfeld for a highly informative interview. We can only hope that no matter who is the next President of the United States, 2013 will become the year the Middle East finally knows peace.
Biography of Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld was born in Vienna, grew up in Amsterdam and moved to Israel in 1968. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Gerstenfeld was a board member of the Israel Corporation and other Israeli companies. He was an editor of The Jewish Political Studies Review, co-publisher of the Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism and Changing Jewish Communities and a member of the council of the Foundation for Research of Dutch Jewry, of which he was formerly the vice-chairman. He is a member of the Board of Fellows at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a respected Jerusalem based think tank. He was chairman of the Board of Fellows from 2000 until 2012.