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Jerusalem’s Berlin Wall




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The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall | On Non-Linear Politics


“Impossible!” several readers answered to my “Defeating Israel” series of articles. Sometimes it wasn’t more than that single word; they couldn’t articulate their feelings in a more exact fashion. The word “feelings” is important; their reaction was an emotional one and based on what I would later define as “linear thinking.” Reality is different.

On A False Plateau

“The American-Israeli alliance have never been stronger; there are up and downs, but overall it’s constructed on firm ground;” this is the official version of the issue. Phrased on one or other form, this text appears time and again in the American and Hebrew media. The old swamps are dry by now and everything is unwavering. The abovementioned readers feel that for as long the alliance holds Israel would survive, even if the scenarios described in “Defeating Israel” are feasible ones.

The deal looks stable. America gives an awesome amount of money and loans to Israel every year; they allow building a strong army and developing the civil society. Israel – through the American-Jewish community – gives generous amounts of money to Democrat and Republican campaigns, making sure only politicians supportive of Israel are elected. Hollywood provides the cultural approval of the alliance; no material criticizing the Unholy Alliance comes out of the movie studios. Printing books criticizing Israel and the alliance is difficult; The Cross of Bethlehem has been blocked for years until it was published through a “Print on Demand” program of Amazon.

The casual observer may feel the relationship between the two societies is on a plateau. Any changes would take a long period of time. This type of thought is based on the assumption changes can be only small and independent of each other, creating what in mathematics would be called “linear processes.” Under such a line of thought there is no single event that may bring a sudden and irreversible process. The indefatigable conspirators would always be there in order to reverse undesired changes. This type of approach plays into the hands of those indefatigable conspirators; this is the invisible inertia keeping society from improving and changing. However, most of the indefatigable conspirators’ dirty work is done by ourselves: “What’s the point? It won’t make any difference!” we whisper and drop most attempts to denounce evil.

Non-Linear Processes

One of the difficulties while entering exact sciences faculties is making the transition from non-quantitative thought to one based on mathematical models. The last doesn’t mean arithmetic; the capability to compute is not completely related to this. Integrating data into comprehensive models and creating models using the correct parameters and giving each one the correct weight is a complex process. Usually – at least in models depicting a physical reality – it leads to non-linear models. Without going into details, the main point is that such a model would take into account the interactions between all parameters while weighting the results. A wild exaggeration is what usually is known as the Butterfly Effect: a butterfly shakes its wings in China and an earthquake follows in Chile. In real models the butterfly movement effects would eventually be cancelled by other actions, but it illustrates the point: several secondary effects can interact between themselves and create major effects in a given system.

“Exact sciences lingo is irrelevant to politics!” some readers may be thinking by now. Is that so? Let me make an effort and remember not so distant days:

On August 22, 1989, the Berlin Wall was a solid reality; as solid as the wall constructed by Israel along the West Bank borders is now. It had been a solid reality since 1961; it symbolized the Iron Curtain separating Western and Eastern Europe during the days of the Cold War. In January of the same year, Erich Honecker – East Germany’s leader at the time – had predicted that the wall would stand for a "hundred more years."

The next day, something did happen far away from there: on August 23, 1989, Hungary removed its physical border defenses with Austria. Next month more than thirteen thousand East German tourists in Hungary escaped to Austria. By itself, the event had little importance; the East German authorities would have probably found a way of blocking this little hole in the dam separating the two sides of Europe. The border of East Germany with Hungary was closed, but then a similar incident happened in neighboring Czechoslovakia, which also was experiencing reforms.

Eastern Europe’s reality was complex; it didn’t allow making linear assumptions. The Soviet Union was facing a deep crisis; Gorbachev was planning significant reforms. Poland and Hungary were already making reforms. Many butterflies combined to create an effect that a few months earlier was inconceivable.

Protests broke out all over East Germany in September. Initially, people were chanting "Wir wollen raus!" ("We want out!"). Afterwards, they changed to "Wir bleiben hier", ("We're staying here!"). On October 18 Erich Honecker, resigned. The "Peaceful Revolution" of 1989 had begun. On November 4 half a million protestors gathered at the Alexanderplatz in East Berlin. On November 9, Berlin Wall fell.

Are we on a Plateau?

Reality is complex. The Cold War is over. The Soviet Union disintegrated and Russia is steadily weakening. China is emerging as a superpower. America is declining, delegated to a role of “the world’s security subcontractor.” These processes are non-linear. America’s position depends heavily on its capability to keep being the main weapons supplier of major armies. If it loses this market, I doubt very much the other American industries would manage to keep this country at the world’s economic frontline. This situation may change rapidly if China – or India, or Europe – would become major military players in the world. Israel may find itself stronger than ever in Washington, but the last may become just a continental power in the Americas. Where would the butterflies be by then? Jerusalem’s Berlin Wall won’t survive.

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