Two States Are Dead, Long Live the New State!
The Brits have long used the odd-sounding (to foreigners) phrase when a monarch dies: “the king is dead; long live the king!” I’m adapting the phrase for this discussion of an important piece by Henry Siegman in The National Interest: two states are dead, long live one state. It’s not that Siegman or I are enamored of one state. It’s just that the Israeli settler regime has successfully throttled two states like a proverbial baby in its crib. Two states are no more.
The best outcome possible for Israel is to figure out what will come after we accept the death of two states. As I wrote recently in a post, will the single state be what Siegman calls an apartheid state offering no rights and dispossession to Palestinians living within its boundaries? Or will it be a real, viable state which offers democratic rights to all citizens? This battle will consume Israel for the next years and perhaps decades.
If Israel turns in the direction of a settler apartheid state, this is what it and its foreign supporters can expect:
…It is highly doubtful that Israel can survive another half century of its subjugation of the Palestinians. The region has been radically transformed by the emergence of Islamic regimes that, unlike their predecessors, will not suppress Arab furies provoked by Israel’s permanent disenfranchisement of the Palestinians. America’s ability to impose its own political order on the region is in decline. Even Arab royals in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Emirates will be pressed to prove their legitimacy by joining efforts to deepen the ring of Arab hostility that surrounds and threatens the Jewish state. America’s fading influence and Israel’s growing vulnerability in this emerging regional order have already been exposed by Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s decision, in defiance of American objections, to attend a conference of nonaligned nations hosted by Iran. The heightened sense of isolation and insecurity that Israelis will experience as Arab countries join the nuclear club, which in time they surely will, is bound to lead to an exodus of Israel’s best and brightest, and in time it could spell the end of the Zionist dream. As reported in Israel’s press, the search in certain sectors of Israeli society for foreign passports and second homes abroad has already begun.
With the departure of the secular, élite, educated professional classes, Israel will continue its transformation into a state composed largely of poor Haredi and Mizrahi Jews alongside Israeli Palestinians. Democracy will be long gone as will a free press. Religion will reign supreme. Art and culture will be consigned to nostalgic reruns of past glory. Politics will, even more than today, be decided by a bunch of insider deals among corrupt politicians. Cynicism and nihilism, already at a high pitch, will become even more pronounced. Israel’s famed high-tech industries will migrate to more hospitable climes. Tel Aviv’s cutting edge dynamism will be long-gone.
This won’t happen overnight. It may take years. But this is Israel’s inexorable fate unless it takes “the deal.”
Siegman believes that the Palestinians will play a key role in determining how this plays out. Their first move must be to give up on two states themselves. That is, they must dissolve the PA and throw in their lot with Israel as their future state. Then they must turn to the world and say something like: we gave you a chance to recognize our state in the context of a two state solution. You refused. Now we no longer want our own state. We want to become citizens of Israel.
In that context, what can the world say? No, you said you wanted your own Palestinian state and now we’re going to hold you to it? I think not.
Israel will likely respond to such a Palestinian decision by offering to recognize what it will call a “real Palestinian state.” But that so-called real state will be the equivalent of a South African Bantustan. It will be a few bits of land hemmed in on all sides by Jewish roads, Jewish settlements, Jewish checkpoints, Jewish walls, Jewish guns, and Jewish power. It will not be a state in any sense recognizable to any reasonable person.
After Israel makes its offer, it will then be up to the Palestinians to reject it forcefully and turn to the world and tell them that Palestinians have now let their voice be heard and it’s up to the international community to make it right.
There is another possibility, however unlikely: once Israel offers the Palestinian Bantustan and the Palestinians reject it and the world begins putting pressure on Israel to recognize Palestinians as full Israeli citizens, there could be a pragmatic Israeli leader who will come forward and say: we see that the jig is up; now we will really offer Palestinians a full state within 1967 borders. The Palestinians will then have the option of deciding which they prefer: one state or two. If they choose one, no one will be able to fault them, except Israel’s sourpuss politicians who will carp and whine about the fact that the Palestinians rejected a perfectly good offer (though one offered a few decades too late to matter).
As I’ve said, this is unlikely. Israel’s political leaders have, for decades (except for a brief interlude under Yitzhak Rabin’s leadership), been stuck with their head in the sand. It’s hard to imagine they will all of a sudden gain insight and wisdom and do the right thing. But hey, stranger things have happened.
9 thoughts on “Two States Are Dead, Long Live the New State! – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Richard, was your site cyber attacked? Some anomalies there earlier today. Your site may have been hacked earlier as well. Popup error messages in Hebrew.
Its said a person’s first thought is usually their best thought. Israelis are traveling down a road that leads nowhere, but one day the full horror of what they have begged for will be crystal clear to them as it will be to Palestinians, especially the Palestinians when they realize that one state, or a greater Israel means having it all. And Zionists counting on American backing forever is pure lunacy, as the US will inevitably be climbing on the global bandwagon for Palestine as the it did for Zimbabwe and S. Africa. Changing geo-strategic realities are and ultimately will compel it.
The idea of the equal citizen in the multi-ethnic state may be a weakening conceptual framework. The alternative, and I think it has some chance of success, is the acceptance of the state as essentially an ethnic configuration with different hierarchies of rights depending on one’s ‘caste’ role within it.
The United States as the new (old) India… Brahmins by birth, Untouchables by birth…
How anyone thinks that is an advantageous society or a society worth creating is, well… but they’re working at it.
It is sad to see how the hate of Israel (and the wish to see it losing out) blinds people to to the full picture of what they themselves predict. Siegman talks about Israel`s fate when Arab countries will (as he predicts) become nuclear. But is it not absolutely clear that in that case many other countries will have it (and in the end inevitably also radical-Islamic organizations and perhaps also right down criminal ones – as the powerful drug cartels). Now how exactly would people sleep peacefully in a world like that, especially when coupled with Siegman`s other forecast that American global influence will wane (which means nobody is policing the world or being able to restrain any of the many nuke owners). In such apocalyptic conditions for the world as a whole who exactly would be interested in the least in the particular fate of Israel? Wake up guys before it`s too late (which is ironically, or tragically, what is preached here to Israel)
Siegman just put into words what many Zionists fear in their hearts to be their fate, though the fanatical are to blind to recognize it.
Beyond being a deterrence nukes are of little use to states or rogue regimes like N. Korea. Drug cartels and terrorists may also discover there is little utility in such weapons too.
You claim “cynicism and nihilsim” are at a high pitch. Maybe you think that because all your do is read certain Israeli newpapers. This is a poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute
It finds that Israelis are among the most optimistic and happy people in the world. This includes Israeli Arabs. This is spite of the fact that the large majority of Israelis realize that a compromise peace agreement with the Palestinians is not attainable and the deterioration of Israeli relations with Egypt and Turkey.
78.8% of Israeli Jews and 60% of Israeli Arabs are optimistic about Israel’s future, in spite of the conflict with the Arabs and the Iranian threat. Compare this to the widespread pessimism about the future in the US where 76% feel the US is in decline. 90% of Jews and Arabs view their personal future as being in Israel. This is in direct contradiction to your claim that the “elites” are supposedly going to flee the country.
But let’s say that your’s and Siegman’s fears are correct, or as Ehud Olmert and Tzippi Livni put it “Israel has a vital interest in creating a Palestinian state”. That mean they belive that Israel is doomed without setting up a Palestinian state. This would mean, as you said, that the Arabs would take over in the long run. Isn’t that what the Arabs want? Why should a Palestinian leader tell his people “you heard Olmert, we had better accept a truncated Palestinian state now so that we can save Israel. IF we don’t take it now, we will end up taking over the whole thing sometime in the future”.
Jordan is Palestine, Palestine is Jordan. Gaza must be absorbed into Egypt and its excess population can migrate a few miles down the coast into the virtually empty Egyptian Sinai. The only solution.
In that case, I’d be in favor of Israeli Jews migrating “a few miles down the coast” to Uganda as Herzl originally suggested. We might even do a ” transfer” of Israeli Jews to Africa and Eritreans, Sudanese and Etiopians to Israel. Quite an elegant solution if one’s as loony as you & your suggestions are.
Richard, you say, “There is another possibility, however unlikely: once Israel offers the Palestinian Bantustan and the Palestinians reject it and the world begins putting pressure on Israel to recognize Palestinians as full Israeli citizens, there could be a pragmatic Israeli leader who will come forward and say: we see that the jig is up; now we will really offer Palestinians a full state within 1967 borders.”
And you say, “As I’ve said, this is unlikely. Israel’s political leaders have, for decades (except for a brief interlude under Yitzhak Rabin’s leadership), been stuck with their head in the sand. It’s hard to imagine they will all of a sudden gain insight and wisdom and do the right thing. But hey, stranger things have happened.”
I disagree. ‘Stranger things have NOT happened.’
A realistic frame of reference is a matter of recognizing the inevitable unwinding of a spring’s tensions; the spring is the coiling zionism, as a political concept of a Jewish ownership of the governance of Israel, into what is believed to be the very identity of the Jewish people and, even more fundamentally, Judaism. The problem is that political zionism is not an ethical concept. So, despite one’s hopes and desires that there could emerge a ‘rational’ decision maker who can compromise a political zionism to balance themes of justice, such a decision maker would be in conflict with political zionism.
I believe the only hope is to somehow display to the Jewish people that a religious zionism (the absolute right to practice Judaism within ‘Israel’) is actually contrary to political zionism (the absolute right for the Jewish people to own the government of Israel). A religious zionism would be tolerant and welcome people of all faiths