HERZL, GEOPOLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS

“Geopolitics” and “geopolitical” are terms widely in use today, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Geopolitics, a term first used in 1901 by the Swedish professor and MP, Rudolf Kjellén, is not about power. Kjellén was active during the First World War. He understood that a new era was coming. The old system that existed before the First World War had broken down. Rival power blocs were rising. Modern technology was entering the world stage. The Swedish geopolitician and others concluded that stability was over and the hubris of Europe was coming to an end. What remained was everlasting struggle. A global survival plan was needed.

The Western social model was dissolving in the period after the First World War. This was well understood by Theodor Herzl, who could be termed a forerunner of modern geopolitics. In his Diaries one can find that in one way or another Herzl must have been influenced by the existing geopolitical debate. The Jews needed their own space to survive in the coming contest of the extremists. From the Old World powers he thus tried to extract the Jewish state. Modern technology could transform the destinies of all peoples. Swamps could be drained, illnesses cured, all was possible. In many ways the modern wonder of Israel but also for instance the newborn Japan after the Second World War, is the proof. A state can have limited natural resources but still create wonderful wealth.

Herzl did understand that if possible order should be preserved. In this sense he was still a man of the nineteenth century. International approval of Zionism was needed to protect the Jewish people. So in the end the founder of Zionism was hoping for peaceful settlements of disputes, free trade, freedom of thought and conscience. Also, and perhaps most important of all, free speech was the fundamental cornerstone of this democratic process.

As the importance of geopolitical thinking is growing a strong Israel to a great degree has Herzl to thank for lasting insights in global geopolitics.

A peace process has been under way between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Entity. This is important but the question is if true peace can come as long as Iran is working to create nuclear weapons in order to be able to destroy Israel. As long as this threat continues it is doubtful if there can be real progress of the peace process. A solution to the problem of Teheran and its extremist leader likely has to be found first. How can Israel negotiate under the threat of nuclear annihilation, a second Holocaust.

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