Scenarios for the Future

Many different scenarios, some negative and some positive, are presented for the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict specifically and the entire Middle East generally.

The worst scenario involves a nuclear attack by Iran against Israel, triggering massive retaliation and leading to World War III.  Proponents of this scenario think that Iran feels the need to develop nuclear weapons (whether to preserve its own security or to gain dominance in the region) and would not hesitate to use them if it feels threatened.  We think that the realization of this scenario is quite unlikely.  Firstly, it seems unlikely that the world community (and especially the United States) will allow Iran to proceed far enough along the path of nuclear weapons technology development to obtain a nuclear arsenal.  Secondly, we think that Iran, which is the descendant of a Persian Empire that once protected Jews and ended their Babylonian Exile, is just going through a temporary stage of reactionary fervor resembling what the Vatican went through during the Middle Ages, and is likely to return to normal in a few decades as a result of the combined effects of internal aspirations for greater freedom and international pressures.

Another scenario, where a putative Greater Kurdistan Project that would be realized with the support of the United States and Israel is perceived as the opening of Pandora’s box, presents the risk that wars that are initially regional may spread throughout the world.

We believethat a more optimistic scenario may come to pass as a result of the changing minset in the Middle East. As a starting point, we hope that the peace negotiations  that have started again between Israel and  the Palestinian Authority will lead to a lasting and honorable peace.  Furthermore, we hope that such a peace will be the first step towards the creation of a supranational entity for economic and political cooperation that resembles the European Union and encompasses all countries of the Middle East.  The formation of such a supranational entity could be a major step towards the creation of a peaceful and prosperous Middle Eastern civilization.  The fact that a peace-loving and experienced statesman such as Shimon Peres is currently the President of Israel makes this an especially opportune time to start taking steps towards creating such a bright future for the Middle East from its pitiful current situation.

Whether the Middle East will have a happy or a miserable future depends, above all else, on the peoples of the region.  It is important to reach the hearts and minds of not only their political leaders and intellectuals, but also their entire populations.  The greatest obstacle to the establishment of a lasting and honorable peace in the Middle East is psychological. Many people are prejudiced against one another another along religious and ethnic lines. The conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites, Jews and Arabs, Turks and Kurds, and Christians and Muslims are all results of divisions and hostilties between the diverse peoples of the Middle East. But, the mindset seems to be slowly changing, especially amongst the youth. It was the youth that drove the forces of the democracy in the Arab Spring, for example. The people of this generation are also more educated and Westernized, which has made us all more alike and knowledgeable of one another. Globalization has made our similarities more important than our differences by making it necessary to work with one another. ,  We are hopeful that this changing mindset  transform the destiny of the Middle East.

The formation of a joint commission of peace-oriented Arab and Jewish intellectuals who would collaborate on formulating such a vision in detail may enhance the probability of success of such an ambitious endeavor to transform the destiny of the Middle East.

About the Author
Holly Bicerano is a student in the BA/MA Program at Boston University. She is pursuing an MA in Economics and a BA with a double concentration in Economics and Middle East and North Africa Studies. Her foreign language studies include Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish. She has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Turkey.