Or better: a region with some oil and gold in the ground. Just like the United States of America, Israel is the expression of an idea, and as such, it can be discussed, its existence can even be denied – contrary to China or France, which are historical entities and not per se intellectual concepts. But Israel is there, I love to visit it, I admire it, I am moved to tears when I hear its national anthem or see its fighter jets, and at the same time, I deeply worry about its future.
It would have been so much easier if it would have been created right after World War II in what soon after became the German Democratic Republic. Wouldn't that have been a nice way for the Germans to repay some of their debt to the Jews?
How do you respond to critics who say you are harming Israel by spelling out a dim future for the Jewish state?
: Would it be more realistic if I had written a novel describing how in 2024 the Jews are going on vacation in Mecca, how the Saudi princes will enjoy their stay in the fancy suites of the Tel Aviv Hilton, how the Jordanian desert will blossom and the slums of Cairo have been transformed into wealthy suburbs and in the Middle East there is nothing but peace and joy and happiness?
I just continued and enlarged the present trends. Very realistically, I did my job. I fear that Israel will not see its first centennial. Not because of a lack of vitality or commitment, but because after many decades in a region where they have been met with violence, wars, and hatred, the Israeli Jews will conclude that they love their children more than their country.
What prompted you to write such a book?
What needs to happen – or not happen – by 2024 for your vision not to come true?
De Winter: Preferably, a miracle. The arrival of the Messiah would be a nice surprise, don't you agree? If that's not possible, a civil revolution in the Arab world would also be a nice event – sorry, this is also part of the miracle solution. I mean, there is no solution. This is an old, tribal, atavistic conflict. There aren't that many of these conflicts in our present world anymore, but they have been fundamental in the development of our world: the fight over land.