Shibley Telhami has produced a new poll which questions Americans about their views should the current round of peace talks fail. He begins by offering the rather astonishing finding that only 40% of respondents actually favor a two-state solution. 24% favor one state.
He asks which form of government they would favor in the event a two-state solution fails: would they favor Israel as a Jewish state retaining the privileging of Jews over non-Jews and the continued denial of rights/citizenship to Palestinians of the Territories; or would they favor Israel’s democratic character by supporting one state in which all Palestinians would become citizens equal to Jews. In that event, 65% favored a one-state solution (Israeli democracy) and 24% favored the status quo (Israel as Jewish state).
This poll buttresses one particular argument advanced by Pres. Obama in his Bloomberg interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. He argued that if Israel rejected the current peace talks, neither it nor the U.S. has a viable alternative (other than the status quo). Obama noted that the status quo would not remain viable forever. There’s only so long the U.S. can protect Israel from hostile UN Security Council resolutions and the impact of BDS. Once a threshold of opposition is attained, as in the case of South Africa under apartheid, nothing can stand in the way. Obama warned Israel that such a development was virtually guaranteed if it rejected the offer Kerry has on the table.
This poll confirms that opposition to Israel’s Occupation and denial of Palestinian rights will gain significant momentum in the event of rejection. Once 65% of Americans are in favor of anything, even something formerly controversial like gay marriage or a one state solution, the handwriting is on the wall. American presidents, even those most glued to Israel, read polls and care what they say. If a large majority of Americans no longer support Israel’s policies, then even the political elite, those currently in Aipac’s pocket, will be forced to take notice.
I’m not arguing that America will officially lead the charge for BDS. But I am arguing that softening of support for continued Israeli subjugation of the Palestinians will allow strong countervailing winds to carry the debate against Israel. At that point, there will little anyone can do but recognize the inevitable.
Here is Telhami’s narrative of what the future will look like after the talks fail:
..If the Obama administration’s efforts fail…American leaders would…pretend that the two-state solution was still on the table. No American politician wants to choose between Israel’s democracy and its Jewishness — even if the polls show that the choice is clear to the American people.
Pretending neatly rationalizes paralysis, but it would not hide the naked truth for most people. If the peace talks fail, no number of assurances from the White House could stop the inevitable sense of resignation at home and abroad. The American people are clear about their views: Occupation and unequal citizenship are a losing cause.
Further, this would be even more clear to those in Europe and elsewhere who are already more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Once they see the talks die and Americans begin to understand what this means, the international community will become emboldened to speak out on behalf of a single state. From there it will be just a matter of time…
H/t Mitchell Plitnick.