In this ambiguous world of ours it is often difficult to find moral clarity, even when it comes to seemingly black and white issues like 9/11 and the Arab Spring. And the question arises therefore: How do we bring moral clarity to a world that is mired in confusion and chaos?

The Taliban were not exactly a friendly bunch when they ran things in Afghanistan. They made life difficult for the people with their distorted version of Islam. They kept women covered up and hidden away in the shadows. And they allowed al Qaeda to recruit and train in preparation for 9/11.

The consequences of the terror attack ran deep and have changed the course of human destiny forever. Three-thousand innocent civilians were murdered, and things would never be the same. A War On Terror was launched. Regime change was undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in recent months, perhaps as an indirect consequence, the Arab Spring has taken hold in the Middle East, bringing with it the prospect of regime change throughout the region, in response to a call by the people for freedom and jobs.

Yet still somehow there is little that has been resolved in the Middle East, even ten years since the towers of the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And there are few prospects, at this point in time, that the hopes and aspirations of the Arab Spring will bear fruit. We can see, lurking in the shadows, all sorts of shady characters who remain poised to pounce on the opportunity to assume the reins of power, and to impose on the people their lopsided versions of right and wrong.

9/11 was a defining moment in American history, but what did it mean? The Arab Spring is a defining moment in Middle East history, but where will it lead? Will the hopes and aspirations of the people be realized? Or will the War On Terror and the Arab Spring be footnotes in the annals of history; cast aside as missed opportunities to bring about real change?

In order for 9/11 and the Arab Spring to achieve the measure of meaning they deserve, we need to raise the fight on the ground, against terror and against oppression, to a higher moral plane, by giving the fight a moral clarity of purpose. We need to make sense of it all, for it to make a difference in the day to day lives of everyday people. To bring moral clarity to the confusion of our time, we must embrace a vision that makes sense, and that inspires in people a sense of hope. And then we must find the courage to give substance to the vision and make it real.

The vision for our time is, and must be, a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. It is a vision that makes sense of the wars that we are waging, and that inspires in us the belief that things can get better, if people of good will, people like us, choose to make it so. Positioned in the proper context, our struggles assume a greater sense of purpose. We are not fighting a “War on Terror.” We are fighting a war to realize a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. There’s a big difference. We are not fighting to kill Gadhafi, or to execute Mubarak. We are fighting to bless our people with the dignity that comes from decent jobs and personal freedoms.

To bring justice to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and in the Arab Spring, build 100 Green Industrial Zones throughout the region, using Arab capital, along with Arab, Israeli and American knowhow. Create jobs that grow our economies, that protect the environment, and that help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking. Use state-of-the-art green technology to address the environmental issues of the region such as clean water, food production, green energy and healthcare. Show that the lives lost, and the battles waged, served a greater purpose, a purpose that inspires a sense of hope in things to come.

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a time to reflect and to remember. As we remember those who lost their lives in such a brutal fashion, let us also reflect obest to do justice to the sanctity of those precious lives, by embracing a Vision of Hope, and giving substance to that vision with changes which will inspire in people a sense of hope for the future, and a belief that their struggles will not have been in vain.

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Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 25, 2011 at 11:10pm
Consider It Done
written by Nissim Dahan, September 23, 2011

I like your idea about writing a blog post about "freedom." I'll do that in the next day or so.

You are right to suggest that words like "freedom" and "peace" are bandied about without really paying attention to what they mean.

In fact, I would take that point one notch further by suggesting that it may well be time to re-think most of what we happen to believe, in favor of what makes sense.

I used to think that most of our problems are somehow centered in the Middle East. But the more I think about it, we have a hell of a lot of problems here at home, and we in the West may well have to re-set some of our priorities, and it will begin with an analysis of what it really means to be free, and prosperous, and so forth.

But I'm not sure that we're that far apart you and I.

In your last comment you call for a more balanced education in the Middle East, and health clinics, and new home construction, and teaching people skills for employment, purifying water, and initiating businesses with dual ownership between Arabs and Jews.

Well, Gabe, what do you think I've been talking about here? I believe in the same things. I put it in a context called Selling a Vision of Hope, because I want to take such projects and elevate them into a movement for change.

Considering the dire situation we face, an isolated project here and there, as well intentioned as it may be, will not do what is needed to be done. What is needed is to launch projects which could serve as models, and which could be replicated throughout the Middle East, using Arab capital, along with Arab, Israeli and U.S. knowhow.

When I talk about a Green Indutrial Zone in Gaza, for example, I would incorporate into such a project all the things you speak about: education, green technology, clean water, health clinics, joint business ventures, and the like.

But because the scale of such a project would be large, it would need funding, including Arab capital, so that the impact could be large as well, and so that other such projects could be launced so as to revitalize the entire Middle East, and so as to create millions of Western jobs, which must be done if we're to get Western support.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 25, 2011 at 11:09pm
written by GABE1, September 22, 2011 can start a blog on what freedom is and what it entails. The Russian Revolution promised the oppressed workers freedom from the oppressor and that all output will be controlled by the workers. Did this really work in practice-NO.

You know there was this song in the 1960- Me and Bobby McGee that captured the meaning extremely well:"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" and that is the essence.

Just like the word "peace" it is bandied about by the Leftist Elite as if it was the word of God and even as a religion. In reality both words are bereft of any meaning and are the sole domain of who is interpreting them.

No country in the world has financial , job stability and that includes the USA, Canada , the UK, France. Greece is bankrupt and so is almost Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. these countries were basket cases of Europe pre EU days and I dis not see any job creation initiatives. I did not see these states turn a blind eye to terrorism as we see in the Middle East even though the Palestinian "refugees" are on the UNWRA dole.

As a matter of fact the communist countries did have freedoms of speech and only politics were taboo. You were restricted were you could live and work but you also had a welfare system from cradle to grave. Unions in the West would kill for such provisions.

So lets not get overboard with your notions that jobs are the only saviour of mankind and freedom is a catalyst for good rather than in some cases for evil.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 25, 2011 at 11:08pm
written by GABE1, September 22, 2011

In the first instance I am not blaming you at all and if your utopian vision was even remotely possible in a perfect world than I may have even supported it. You have simply chosen the wrong time and the wrong people to reward or as I like to say "try to appease"

My arguments are simply to turn your skills around and support the ever suffering people of Israel, the victims of the Arab Islamofascism and terror and mayhem.

Your plan is not that difficult it is a phantom and neigh impossibility as far as the Middle East is concerned.

Why not start on a simpler route. The education of their children to learn to love life and other people that are not Muslims. Lets raise funds to donate books that show Israel and explains about Judea and Samaria of old and talks about the Romans, the crusades and the Muslim conquests. Books that talk about children in other countries and their tribulations and their hopes and fears.

Set up clinics for well being and build houses were now you have refugee camps. Fund Israeli-Arab projects for desalinization and colleges that teach job skills.

Lets start businesses on a small scale with dual ownership.

This is the way to understanding not some grand design that will not see the light of day.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 25, 2011 at 11:08pm
Please Don't Shoot The Messenger
written by Nissim Dahan, September 22, 2011

Gabe, I would be the first to agree that things are falling apart even as we speak. Everything you're saying about the deterioration in the Middle East is true. New despots may come to power, Israeli/Egyptial relations are strained to say the least, Turkey is willing to sacrifice its relations with Israel, Iran is on her way to going nuclear, Palestinians are trying to isolate Israel in the international community, the Arab Spring may well become a horrid winter, etc., etc., etc.

But then you go on to blame me for continuing to insist that the realization of a Vision of Hope in the Middle East, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom could be used to turn things around in a more positive direction.

That's what I don't get.

Don't forget, my plan is not implemented, nor has it ever been implemented. So how can you blame me, under the cirucumstances which you so aptly describe, for trying to come up with an answer to this impending dilemma we call the Middle East.

And what exactly do you disagree with about my plan? Let's summarize:

1. I believe that some of the key players in the Middle East and beyond are beginning to worry about the same existential threats, such as a nuclear Iran, and the man on the street, and therefore we could use this mutuality of common interest to forge a strategic/economic alliance which would secure the region, and which would revitalize the region with jobs.

2. I believe that a vision is called for to take advantage of whatever opportunity exists in the Middle East. That vision should be a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom.

3. A Vision of Hope will have five parts to it like the five fingers on your hand:

A belief in what makes sense.

A willingness to invest in jobs which grow our economies, which protect the environment and which help to neutralize the hold of extremist thinking.

Using ideology and investment to inspire people with a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom.

Sustaining the hope with public and private diplamacy.

And fighting against the extremists, but positioning that fight within a Vision of Hope.

So Gabe, what exactly don't you agree with?

What's wrong in coming up with a solution for the problems we see around us?

How can you be so sure that my solution won't work?

Don't you think that if the region could be revitalized with jobs, and freedom, that this could improve the situation?

Or do you believe that my plan is simply too difficult to pull off?

But how we you be sure that it won't work, until we at least try?
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 25, 2011 at 11:07pm
written by GABE1, September 21, 2011

The Arab Spring is slowly turning into a replay where old despots are replaced with new more dangerous ones. The Israeli Embassy in Cairo has been under siege and overrun by the Tahrir Square thugs. Turkey is flexing its muscles against both Cyprus and Israel and making overtures to the new despots. The Balestinians turn to the UN and are admonished by the "best friend" Obamination, the Muslim with silver lips and a brown nose (when it comes to re-election)

But here you are still singing that old refrain that no one remembers or gives a hoot about remembering. No matter how many times your idea is shot down you still manage to resurrect it without missing a step.

The Arabs could care less about your , mine or anyone else's vision of hope. Their vision of hope is to see Israel eliminated. Period, full stop.Even if you live to be 120, you will not see democracy in any Arab state, nor will you see the diminishing of the barbarity whether towards Jews, Christians or other Muslims.

You are just fooling yourself and no one else. Think about it.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 17, 2011 at 5:37pm
By the Way
written by Nissim Dahan, September 17, 2011

By the way, when you say that the Arab States will not invest " anything other than themselves and their well being as rulers," I would actually agree with that, Gabe, and that's exactly what I'm calling for. I'm arguing that the wealthy Arab states will invest in this manner precisely because doing so will maximize they chances to hold on to power, while effectuating positive change for the future. The two go hand in hand, and are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, I would go on to argue that there is no alternative to this idea that could be used to protect Arab leadership.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 17, 2011 at 5:37pm
What's New Pussycat?
written by Nissim Dahan, September 17, 2011

It's a fair question, Gabe. If there is nothing new on the table, then there is no hope for change in the future. But I contend that there is something new this time around, and that the confluence of these factors could bode well for the future. The other scenario, of course, is war, on the scale of the two world wars.

First we have the prospect of a nuclear Iran, which presents an existential threat to much of the Arab world. Iran has made its intentions clear, with regard to Israel, and with regard to the Sunni Arab states. Iran is using its proxies in the region to effectuate a consolidation of political power. And as you suggested before, Iran's current batch of leaders will not stop at any means to effectuate the kind of change she seeks. The Iran/Iraq war is a case in point when thousands of children were used to clear mine fields. In addition, Iran has made it quite clear to its own people that protest of the type we see spreading thoughout the region, will not be tolerated.

So one factor that is new is the palable threat from Iran, and the inability of the Arab world to meet that threat without help

Another new factor is the Arab Spring itself. Yes there have been leaders and kings overthrown throughout history. But the ideal of millions of people taking to the steet, making there voice known, and bringing about regime change, is, I think, new to the Arab world. It is in many ways unprecedented. But just because you have revolution, doesn't mean you have revolutionary change. What is needed is to give direction to this energy, in a way that will yield positive results, and changes that are consistent with the aspirations and hopes of the people.

You also have modern technology, that allows the man on the steet to see and hear the rest of the world, and that allows him as well to speak to the rest of the world. And with the whole world watching, it becomes more difficult for the regimes to kill who they want to kill, and more difficult for the rest of the world to stay silent in the face of the killing that does occur. Case in point, Libya.

Another factor is that the U.S. and much of the Western world is going broke, even as emerging economies such as China and India are growing by leaps and bounds. The West has to find ways to grow its economies and to create jobs. The Middle East has capital, but few jobs and stagnant economies. Therefore, a partnership in this regard could benefit both sides.

Of course, there are many other factors to considers. But even if you take these factors by themselves, it is not inconceivable that sounder minds will prevail, and a grand bargain of sorts could be struck. The Arab states, Israel, the U.S., and Europe, could agree to come together in a strategic/economic alliance. The purpose would be twofold: to provide security against the extremists, including those in Iran, and to use Arab capital along with Western technology to revitalize the region, and to grow our respective economies, and to create millions of jobs, including American and Western jobs.

Yes, its a stretch. And yes, it would be one of the few times that mankind has acted rationally on such a grand scale. But it is still possible, and give the dire alternatives, including mass warfare, it is worth a try, even against all odds.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 17, 2011 at 5:36pm
written by GABE1, September 16, 2011

This is different. This is something new. And the model that the Arabs have put in place, over the last few centuries, is crumbling under the weight of the modern world.
I disagree with you on this point and suggest that it is a rehash of another era where Arab Kings and Colonels were toppled and when the current batch of tyrants came to power. The only change is that Lebanon has also succumbed to that.

I am however open to hearing from you some details of these "changes" that you remind us off with every posting. Frankly, I do not see it but rather a regression to the 1950's and 1960's.

I also disagree that you or anyone else could get the Oil Rich Arab States to invest in anything other than themselves and their well being as rulers.

If the Middle East was a democracy (for voting patterns)(I do not believe that they ever will embrace democracy)than there would be opportunities not just for Israel but for the whole world. Currently the instability and terror cannot be a catalyst for ANY investment and anyone who invests there would have to be delusional-Arab spring or no Arab spring.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 17, 2011 at 5:36pm
Be Careful, You're Beginning to Sound a Little Like Me
written by Nissim Dahan, September 16, 2011

Gabe, there is no question, as you suggest, that if we simply look to history, there is very little reason to believe that an idea of this sort could work. I agree. However, I think that what we're witnessing is history in the making. This is different. This is something new. And the model that the Arabs have put in place, over the last few centuries, is crumbling under the weight of the modern world.

I would agree as well that left to their own devises, some Palestinians would rather obsess about the Jewish state, than move forward into the modern age, as partners with Israel. However, I think that these people are increasingly becoming a minority, and that their appeal is diminishing, and will diminish even further if young people espeically could become inspired by a vision of hope for the country.

In addition, it will not be solely the Palestinians who will be calling the shots here, just as Israel will not be calling the shots as well. If the Saudis and the rest of the Arab world could be brought on board, the pressure can be brought on the Palestinians to join the team.

You are right to suggest that given their druthers, the Saudis would prefer to keep things as they always have been. However, as I said before, this is not the same old same old. As you say, Iran is becomming an existential threat, and her designs on the Middle East are certainly not consistent with Saudi's best interests.

So in a way, Gabe, what I am suggesting is that these entrenched regimes may be able to be moved in a more positive direction, not because they necessarily want to. They don't. But because new realities are coming into being, and to contend with these realities they may need our help, and that help can be conditioned on reform, on freedom, and on economic development. We could also negotiate these deals so that Western jobs are created in the process. And Western profits could result as well, so as to serve as economic engines at a time when we desparately need to find ways to grow our economies.

I agree as well that Israel cannot be the one to initiate this move toward revitalization. It should come from a neutral source. And therefore, I would suggest the business community. It should be launched and overseen by top business leaders. People who don't take no for an answer, and who have the resources and skills to pull something like this off.

Why would they do it? First, to protect their going concerns. But also, because the people, who have everything, are also in search of legacy that befits their stature. And a legacy of peace, prosperity and freedom could fit the bill.

So yes, I understand your skepticism, and I have to share your doubts as well. But I still say there's an opportunity here, an opportunity born of desparate realities.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 17, 2011 at 5:35pm
written by GABE1, September 15, 2011

I have been to Cairo when Jews and Israelis and foreigners were still welcome in 1994. At night the population swelled by about 5 million people according to the concierge at the hotel and hotels were guarder by gun toting soldiers. I was told that that was a precaution against the street dwellers invading the lobbies of the hotels.

I venture to guess that about 12-18 are unemployed and a like number with below subsistence levels of employment. Egypt has a primitive economy and could not possibly create at the lower level 24 million well paying jobs.
That is not just the current situation but rather has been going on for a few hundred years, if not longer.In Judea and Samaria UNWRA handouts and limited prosperity 1967-2000 did not change the situation on the ground for the better and in fact when they did gain some semblance of self government, the terror intensified.
From a purely historical standpoint the facts are stacked against you that this will in fact change and specifically in clan societies.

The Saudis are an absolute monarchy and they do pay their own kind well even if they do not work and who says that they want to be extricated, they want to be protected from the likes of Iran but in the end run they will blackmail the USA into preserving their little fiefdom even if it means bombing another "Brotherly State".

Just like Africa, so is the Arab Middle East an economic basket case and the Arabs are still too fixated on the 13th century to realize that they could be like Europe if they can agree to let go of the Non-Muslim Israel fixation and instead learn and trade with Israel, They own after all 98% of the land in the Middle East and are heavily underpopulated, but they want it all and as a result are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

You do have it backwards in that the Arabs must approach Israel with that realization and not the other way around.


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