There have been very strong arguments for the case of a Jewish state in Palestine (a name given to the region by the Romans – until recently, there has never been an Arab tribe called the Palestinians), but now, decades later, if it would have been up to me, I would have picked another region, like the former Dutch colony Surinam, or Montana, or New Mexico.
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?
Gardels: How do you respond to critics who say you are harming Israel by spelling out a dim future for the Jewish state?
De Winter: 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?