Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Forgetting About the Two-State Solution

An argument about delegitimization and peace

Print Email

Yesterday I wrote a post about the yesterday’s scathing United Nations report, which called on all Israeli settlers to immediately leave the West Bank and claimed the Palestinians had cause to take Israel to the International Criminal Court. I tried to argue that, placed into the context of the openly stated goal by Palestinian officials to make Israel a pariah (a goal given a major prod by the recent United Nations vote to grant Palestinians enhanced status), the report was the latest coil in a greater campaign to delegitimize Israel.

Among the responses was one by Matt Duss, who accused me, rightly, of conflating the delegitimization of Israel with the delegitimization of the Israel occupation of the West Bank. Where I’m usually very clear about the distinction, I wasn’t yesterday.

Of course, this got me thinking about my sloppiness. I started to think, well, what if I didn’t actually believe that the campaign by Abbas and the United Nations against Israel’s policies in the West Bank was any different from the myriad other campaigns against Israel’s right to exist? I could cite decades of Palestinian rejectionism and quote decades of hypocritical refrains emanating from Turtle Bay and I wouldn’t sound totally off the reservation. Noting the absence of affirmations of Israel’s right to exist or the desire for peace, it’s gotten easier to believe that Mahmoud Abbas really isn’t interested in a two-state solution. If I consider that the Palestinian demand for right of return is, in essence, a de facto statement against Israel’s right to exist, the point of view only gets clearer. It’s odd to say any of this because I’ve never concluded it before.

The same also feels true for Israeli leaders and supporters abroad who say they believe in the necessity of a Palestinian state. It sounds more and more like lip service than ever. Although given that Israeli territory concessions in Lebanon and Gaza have yielded three wars and an intifada, I’m not as inclined to blame the Israelis for being selfish or stubborn. That doesn’t excuse the policies of Israel in the West Bank, but they should not–as the United Nations baldly suggests–simply leave. The past decade has shown that doesn’t work. Israel should stop building and, if possible, negotiate out.

Sadly, the idea’s not fashionable anymore. The chorus is getting thin.

Earlier: Plan to Delegitimize Israel Unfolding
Palestinian officials say they plan to isolate Israel

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis masks a different and deeper problem, which is the state of turmoil in Arab political culture. We’re all hoping that the classically liberal ideas of democracy take hold in the region, but the fact remains that every single Arab state, including Egypt, embodies some form of despotism. Scholars can debate the origins of the present state of affairs, but it is a fact on the ground. If the Palestinians, and their neighbors, had legitimately representative government, one of the two major Israeli peace offerings of the last dozens years would have been accepted. And I would go further to suggest that if Israel were to magically disappear, the resulting vacuum would create a situation so volatile that a bona fide Palestinian state would not materialize any faster than at the present rate. Palestinians and their would-be supporters would do well to acknowledge that reality.

    I don’t think that’s a very solidly admissible argument anymore. Pretty patronizing.

    N. Friedman says:

    Royq writes: ” If the Palestinians, and their neighbors, had legitimately
    representative government, one of the two major Israeli peace offerings
    of the last dozens years would have been accepted”

    I do not think that is true. I think that there is support for a two state solution but not one that acknowledges Israel as a permanent presence in the region. Moreover, I think that a sufficiently large percentage of Palestinians is not merely rejectionist of a long term presence of Israel but of any deal with Israel. I trust you have heard of those Hamas voters. A good number of them are of the total rejectionist stripe.

Poupic says:

There you go again! You deligitimize Israel by calling Judea and Samaria by the newly invented name of the Jewish homeland “The West Bank!”

I think he’s got it! Adam….glad the light bulb went on:

” If I consider that the Palestinian demand for right of return is, in essence, a de facto statement against Israel’s right to exist, the point of view only gets clearer.”

There is a lot more credible evidence that Palestinians are disingenuous about wanting a two-state solution — that they ultimately do want to deligitimze (or eradicate) Israel. All you need to do is look for it.

    pkbrandon says:

    And this is different from most Israelis how??

      mouskatel says:

      Most Israelis genuinely want an end to the conflict and a 2 state solution was the most reasonable way to end it, hence the 3 generous offers over the last decade+.

        pkbrandon says:

        I know that this was true a year or two ago; I hope it is still true now.

“Totally off the reservation” weren’t the most sensitively chosen words Adam.

“…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever
remains, however improbable, must be the truth…” [Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the
Four (Doubleday p. 111), from

So let’s check our options:

a) A binational state with full rights for all. Jews there live a full Jewish life, in freedom and democracy, and realize in an unanticipated manner the dream of a Jewish Homeland.

Forecast: not going to happen. See: minority rights in any contemporary Arab state (and we would become a minority pretty fast, do not doubt that).

b) A peace treaty which leaves two independent national states, which mutually recognize each other as nation states.

Forecast: not in the cards. The Arabs insist on the so-called Right of Return, i.e., the right to collapse Israel by demographic explosion. In other words, they want a State of Palestine
and the right for every Palestinian defined as a “refugee” to decide by himself whether he wants to live in this State, or in Israel. Considering the living conditions in each of them, we may guess where millions would rather settle.

c) We allow the PA to collapse and reassume full control of, and responsibility for, everything and everybody between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

Forecast: not good. We put down ever-more violent intifadahs fueled from abroad, rot to the core, and are abandoned by the West. Our economy collapses, our military superiority
vanishes, and we become a short footnote in Jewish history.

d) We give Tzahal’s Chief of Staff a topographic map of the Land of Israel and a red pencil. He huddles with the folks in the US Administration who really count (hint: they are not in the White House). A red line is drawn close enough to the Green Line that will be tacitly accepted by the West while militarily defensible. We write enormous checks to the 90% of Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria who are there for the cheap housing, so they leave without a fuss. We tell the other 10% the date Tzahal retreats from wherever they are, and that their checks are waiting. If they stay, please renew your Israeli passports and good luck with your Palestinian rulers.

A few things that will happen:

– There will be tremendous civil unrest in Israel, and probably more than a few violent incidents. But we are not a suicidal nation, so we will get over it.

– Chaos will ensue in the abandoned territories. Hamas and Fatah will bleed each other; in the end there will be three Palestinian rump states – Gaza, Shchem, Hebron. More or less
along tribal lines, as is happening in much of the Arab world.

– There will be sporadic terror attacks against Israel: rockets, suicide bombers through a hole in the security fence, whatever. We respond with enough force to dissuade further attacks for some time. This is not an existential threat against Israel; we’ll live.

When we rule out the impossible – (a), (b) and (c) – we are left with (d). Which is tremendously, terribly hard, yes. But it is something WE DO instead of waiting for someone else TO DO IT FOR US. We are not going to be granted a democratic Jewish state by Abu Mazen or any other Palestinian; it’s up to us, and only to us.

    Cynthia Morris says:

    Sorry, but while cleverly written, your post is riddled with false dilemmas and other logical fallacies.

    First off, “option a” assumes a binational state where Jews are in the minority. This conclusion is based, I assume, on the notion that Israel must annex 100% of the territories (which is emphatically not the case), as well as deliberately distorted demographic data and population counts. It is entirely possible for Israel to annex Area C for example, thus providing substantially for its own defense and long-term viability and only take in an additional 100,000 or so Palestinian Arabs. Israel is a binational state now with full rights for all. Under this scenario, It would continue to be a binational state with full rights for all.

    I agree with the lethal futility of options b and c.

    The devil is in the details of “option d”. If you are contemplating a “red line” solution along the lines (no pun intended) of what I have outlined above, then I would agree this is a plausible approach. In that case, the 90% of Jews receiving “enormous checks to leave without a fuss” would amount to perhaps a few thousand denizens. Not entirely equitable, but probably manageable.

    If however, you are talking territorial concessions that would both uproot hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in J&S and leave the Palestinian Arabs with the high ground over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, your plan is a nonstarter.

      Cynthia, thank you for agreeing re (b) and (c).

      As for the rest of your post:

      a) I don’t know where the “red line” would be drawn. Ideally, it will leave as many Jews as possible inside, and as many Arabs as possible outside. We will have to leave that to our Chief of Staff and to the Americans we negotiate with. A withdrawal without an agreement (which we will have to do in any case) will do us no good if it doesn’t get us international legitimacy with those willing to grant it. Nothing will satisfy Iran, save our collectively jumping into the sea; but it’s not they I am interested in. I am interested in the US, France, UK, Sweden, etc. The West, not the Rest.

      And just to cross the Ts and dot the Is: Israel is emphatically *not* a binational state any more than France is an umpteen-national state. It is the nation of the Jews, period. Its Arab citizens deserve, and largely enjoy, full rights as *individuals* but none as a nation. For that, if so is their wish, they can “make aliyah” to the future State of Palestine. This is the whole point of the two-state solution.

      b) Of course (d) is hard as hell. But I’d rather bring in 100.000 more Jews than 100.000 Arabs. As for “high ground” – what is high ground for a rocket? High ground for us is showing the enemy that we can protect ourselves well enough not to sustain unbearable losses (Iron Dome etc.) and can inflict losses which make the “game” not worthwhile.

      Is it expensive? Yes, enormously. Unfair to the Jews resettled in Israel? I am not sure. The inhabitants of J&S have – for almost two generations – benefited financially from a disproportional share of national resources. If they receive compensation which enables them to resume their lives in Israel, that’s fair enough.

      Uprooting? No, Cynthia, planting a Jew in firm Israeli soil is the opposite of uprooting.

        Cynthia Morris says:

        I suppose that you and I have different expectations of what will earn Israel “international legitimacy”. When I look at the international community’s record with respect to the Jews over the last 90 years or so, certainly since the British handed 78% of the Mandate, originally earmarked for a Jewish national home, to the Hashemite Arabs, and extending to today when countries like the UK, France, Sweden and others in “The West” continue to fund organizations hostile to a “nation of the Jews” and utilize every political and economic lever, short of an outright boycott of Israeli goods (so far), to pressure Israel to surrender every square inch of territory beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines — including Jerusalem — I don’t have as much confidence as you that conceding additional land agreed by the IDF and the Obama administration will enable Israel to achieve international legitimacy. I think deep down, you probably realize this as well since you condition your statement with, “those willing to grant it”.

        I would also point out that these same countries and organizations — not to mention the Arabs — have frequently demonstrated that they would not be willing to cease their agitation with the creation of “two states for two people” (the UN’s Zionism = racism resolution comes to mind), notwithstanding the current trendy public rhetoric, as there are and will continue to be irredentist rumblings about granting the Arabs autonomy within Israel in areas where their populations dominate. My guess, based on history, is that this agitation will only increase as the Palestinian Arabs gain territorial and political concessions. What occurred in Kosovo should be a cautionary tale for Israel.

        As for the high ground for a rocket, the Judean mountains under sole Palestinian sovereignty would make an ideal launching pad for Iranian-made rockets against civilian targets in the coastal plain. That would be very difficult, if not impossible, to defend against, particularly at a cost of $100,000 per rocket for Iron Dome and the usual human rights racketeers in the West and the UN crying foul every time the IDF launches an offensive targeting Palestinian rocket crews.

        Finally, I don’t think it is up to me or you to determine what is “fair” for the Jews of J&S as many are not there simply due to “cheap housing” but for religious and spiritual reasons and by right in international law. The 8,000 Jews that were uprooted in Gaza — and yes, they were UPROOTED — would probably agree, irrespective of an “enormous check”.

          OK, Cynthia, I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

          For the record, I am an Israeli taxpayer. It is definitely up to me to determine what is fair for a subset of my countrymen. Whether my opinion carries the day or not depends on how I do in the elections. We’ll get there.

Adam Chandler, should these 95% of Israeli Arabs be allowed to live in Israel, since your so obsessed with making Judea and Samaria Jew free.,66904.0.html
95% of Israeli Arabs voted for Israel’s annihilation (new English video)
January 29, 2013

    mudplanet says:

    Phuk Israel and all racist apartheid states that are created through terrorism and ethnic cleansing and maintained through racism and war crimes.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Forgetting About the Two-State Solution

An argument about delegitimization and peace

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.