Yediot Aharonot Books, Chemed Books 2010
Reviewed by M. Eliany
David Passig, a professor at Bar Ilan University, defines himself as a futurist, who relies on geographic characteristic of our world to analyze, and, to the extent possible, assess national destinies. His book, 2048, consists of 5 parts.
In the first two parts, Passig lays the historical and geographical tenets of his analysis, while relying on a variety of sources, and especially, George Friedman’s America’s Secret War: Inside the Hidden Worldwide Struggle between the United States and its Enemies (2005, Anchor Press). Passig then relies on his methodology to assess relations between super-powers and potential conflicts, in the third part of his book. But all the first three parts are but a mean to address his main goals, i.e., the geopolitics of the Middles East (fourth part) and Israel (fifth and concluding part).
The first three parts are of interests to researchers and students who seek in-depth understanding on analytical methods. The last two parts are of interest to common people who want to understand what is likely to determine the fate of the Middle East and Israel.
Briefly speaking, Passig conveys in his analysis that Israel is subject to geopolitical forces that determine its fate. Then he recommends being attentive to these geopolitical forces to improve Israel’s survival. He points out that Israel came into being as a state on three historical occasions (David’s Kingdom, the kingdom of the Maccabaeus and Contemporary Israel), subject to specific conditions, i.e.,
1. Israel’s ability to maintain unity within its ranks;
2. Israel’s ability to develop working relations with leading benevolent regional (ancient Persia) or international (British, Russian or American) super –powers.
However, Israel’s survival as an independent entity is threatened, as soon as, inner unity declines (i.e., the split of Salomon’s kingdom into Israel and Judea) or when a ruthless super-power rises and has no vested interest in Israel’s existence or support (i.e., Babylon).
Passig does not consider contemporary Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Jordan pose any significant threat to Israel, due to desert barriers and conflicting interests between the different parties. And finally, he does not consider Syria, or Palestinians, as major threats to Israel, due to geopolitical limitations. Israel may have to launch war against Syria and Lebanon and occupy some of their territories and hold on to them until geopolitical condition elevate Turkey into a position of regional power, in conflict with USA.
Passig does consider Turkey as a major threat, if it rises as an independent regional power, which breaks away from American influence and dismisses the need for Israel’s support. Therefore, he urges Israelis to adopt a measure of modesty and find ways to maintain beneficial relations with Turkey, which shall assist Israel in achieving peace with it neighbors.
Passig’s proposes Israelis to add geographical methods to their analytical arsenal to gain an improved understanding of what is yet to come.