‘NYT’ finally lets its readers know that 2SS is all but over

on 16 Comments

In a story about the resumption of direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis today, the Times’ Ethan Bronner glumly concedes that the two-state solution is likely DOA:

Most Palestinians — and many on the Israeli left — argue that there are now too many Israeli settlements in the West Bank for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state to arise there. Settlement growth has continued despite a construction moratorium announced by Mr. Netanyahu.

Moreover, support for many of the settlements remains relatively strong in Israel. In other words, if this view holds, the Israelis have closed out any serious option of a two-state solution. So the talks are useless.

This is a significant development.

Anyone who has visited the West Bank and East Jerusalem can see that the idea of two states is all but utopian given the reality of Jewish colonization; but the ideal/fiction of two states must be endorsed in Washington and New York if you are going to be taken seriously, because saying otherwise means that you think the Jewish state is finished. I have known people to privately concede that the idea of a two state solution is crazy but publicly say that they believe in it–in order to be taken seriously. Yesterday on the beach here in Cape Cod, with my mom, I heard a leftwing friend explain to a rightwing friend that she is "for the two-state solution"– a good reminder of the fact that believing in two states is still an avant-garde position, in Jewish life, in complete defiance of the reality, that there is one state there, administered effectively by one side. Bronner’s statement opens the real hope that the Times will begin to inform its readers about the actual state of affairs in Palestine and allow them to start thinking of more creative ways to end the oppression and statelessness of Palestinians. As Noam Sheizaf does in the post above.

On a related note: Bronner quickly blames the end of the two state solution on the Palestinians, saying that they have repeatedly rejected Israel offers of Partition. I have some sympathy for this view—if I were Palestinian, I would think, if we hold out long enough, we will get a majority Palestinian state—but then wouldn’t you do the same thing in the same dispossessed situation?

Also Bronner quotes two Palestinians in the piece but, emphasizing the "Israeli perspective," far more Israelis. I count four Israelis, including neocon Dore Gold– who despite working for Israeli governments makes $96,000 a year as a scholar of the American Enterprise Institute. The Times says that the piece includes reporting from Ramallah by Khaled Abu-Akr. Naturally I wonder if one or both Palestinian quotes were provided by him; and if Bronner interviews Palestinians; or if the fact that his son is now serving in the IDF makes it hard for him to get Palestinians on the phone? Just making trouble.

16 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    August 21, 2010, 9:37 am

    Indeed. There is, today, a OSS, namely, Israel’s preferred status quo. It is also America’s (that is to say, Washington’s) preferred status quo. That status quo is endless occupation in place of democracy within a single state.

    The civil society of the world should be working as hard as it can to insist that the US, the UN, the EU, indeed, all the states, enforce international law by ensuring that Israel remove the settlers, remove the wall, and end the siege of Gaza.

    But the states do not do anything remotely like this. They no longer (dare even to) mention international law out loud. The USA has them cowed.

    This, and not the existence of the settlements is the essential impediment to TSS. This reality must be opposed by all civil societies, not instead of civil BDS but in addition to it. BDS-people must call on their governments to enact state-BDS laws. The civil societies must tell the nations of the world to stand up to the US, to cease fearing it.

    The content of national-BDS laws is less important than their existence. Their existence is less important than a robust discussion about whether or not they should be enacted. And therefore friends of Israel and friends of Palestine who oppose endless occupation should beat the drums for national-BDS.

  2. silencenolonger
    August 21, 2010, 10:33 am

    It is not that the world is cowed, it is that the US presents the argument that the regimes in the ME are unreliable, and oil is too important. I believe that is why the small Gulf States like Bahrain, Emirates etc are trying hard to be western/modern, opening to tourism, create modern media. It has to do with the irrationality of the people and their leaders, when Nassar was seen as the great Arab hope instead of slowly bringing Egypt into the modern world and creating a secular Islam most could live with, that made the West comfortable, he had dreams of being “Saladin”. The Israelis have played on this western insecurity. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the first Gulf War won, by 1994 Rabin was shaking Arafat’s hand. That was the time to apply pressure to Israel to work out a deal, but the Lewinsky scandal (was it a setup), and the lack of effort by Arab States in the region to assuage any US uncertainty by doing a massive PR/lobbying job in the West let the opportunity pass. Israel’s choice is either to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians or give up on the idea of a Jewish State, just rename it as Canaan.

  3. hughsansom
    August 21, 2010, 11:02 am

    If the US and Israel are not already at a Moment of Truth (drumroll), they soon will be. The Jewish State may be finished, or — if Americans and Israelis choose to junk some other cherished notion — it may continue in radically altered form.

    The obvious alternative to be junked is democracy. My view is that it will be the democracy that is dumped — not explicitly, but in substance and with a widespread, unstated recognition that this is what is happening.

    There are calls in the Knesset for a more systematic denial of rights to Palestinians, but this has been true for some time. Likewise, there is a systematic denial of equal rights to non-Jews in Israel. The vast majority of non-Jews are Palestinian, so that systematic denial does the work, not just of latent racism, but of preserving the “Jewish character” of the Jewish state.

    A further emphasis on protecting “Jewish character” to resolve the tension between a Two State Solution and Jewish Statehood will also bring denials of democracy to Jews in Israel. This, too, is happening with the grossly disproportionate power of the religious right. Israel is also seeing some evidence of liberal-intellectual flight.

    How is the de-democratization of Israel to be managed in The World’s Greatest Democracy? A good deal of Orwellian linguistic construction aided by the non-quite-coincidental de-democratization of the United States. Economists, first on the left and now increasingly among liberals, are noting this. And progressives generally have been warning of this since the Reagan years, when the “Danger of Too Much Democracy” was first attacked with malice aforethought.

    In an interview with Bill Maher, Paul Krugman said, “The American Dream isn’t dead, but it’s dying pretty fast.” Dean Baker has an essay on the service Congress renders to Wall Street and corporate America — not to us. Essential to Democracy are social mobility and some ideal of socio-economic equality serving as a goal. Both are near-dead in the US. Our politicians are becoming a political class. They become wealthier, use their elected positions to ensure or promote their own wealth and, if they leave office, go to work for precisely the companies they regulated (or didn’t) through legislation. Their children take office after they leave. If we haven’t already, when will we see a third-generation Kennedy take office — or a Murkowsi, Paul, Cuomo, Bush . . . ?

    Elections are becoming near-irrelevant in the US. The great beacon of Change and Hope — Obama — has proved to be anything but, indeed almost the opposite. Who could imagine that Obama would not just fail to address Bush crimes, but actually further some of Bush’s worst?

    The decline of democracy in the US — coupled crucially with Orwellian language to perpetuate the Myth of Democracy — will make it easier for Israel-idealogues in the US to maintain the pretense that Israel is a democracy.

    The irony in Israel’s case is that a profound change in Judaism itself may be a consequence. If Judaism is identified with the Jewish State (as it is, above all by conservatives), then as Israel becomes more right-wing, less democratic and more discriminatory, Judaism will, sadly and possibly tragically, be also so identified. Liberal Jews will seek religious solace elsewhere, some abandoning Judaism, others seeking to create a true, liberal Jewish faith. Judaism will evolve in a way exactly counter to, and as a consequence of, what conservatives intend.

    What will happen in the US is anybody’s guess. Legal institution of oligarchy? Perhaps that is already happening with the formal protections granted Wall Street and corporate profiteering.

    • Chaos4700
      August 21, 2010, 11:32 am

      What will happen in the US is anybody’s guess. Legal institution of oligarchy?

      The States are already being divided, ideologically, culturally and economically, into “have” states and “have not” states.

      Realistically, if that schism is enforced, it is likely to evolve into a literal division of the States as well.

      • pineywoodslim
        August 21, 2010, 11:47 am

        chaos–regarding your talk of a “literal division” of the States, I can see something like this forthcoming as well. Of course there is talk of secession from tea party nuts like the governor of Texas, but I can certainly envision such talk occurring within the left as well, as the dysfunctional and corrupt nature of the federal government continues to become more self-evident.

        After all, much of New England threatened to secede in opposition to the Mexican War.

        Rather than actual secession though, I think matters will proceed more along the lines of “nullification”. From the right–I could easily foresee a state such as Arizona eventually refusing to go along with a federal court order prohibiting the enforcement of its immigration law, or any of a number of states refusing to allow gay marriage in spite of some prospective (maybe) S.Ct. ruling that such bans are unconstitutional.

        Are the US marshals going to arrest and jail the governor of Arizona?

        On the left, not sure what could precipitate it, but I think the seed will be planted.

    • pineywoodslim
      August 21, 2010, 11:38 am

      Thanks for your clear-minded post hughsansom.

  4. Richard Witty
    August 21, 2010, 1:04 pm

    The two-state solution remains alive and well, functional, possible.

    What is impossible is ethnic separation of the two land regions.

    Within green line Palestine there are now 10% Jews, a manageable number for a democracy around a nationalist identity (assuming that residence in the communities ceases to be ethnically screened).

    And, within green line Israel there are now 20% Palestinians, a manageable number for a democracy around a nationalist identity.

    The fear of MOST thinking people on the question, is that the die-hards in each camp will fight, and brutally, and compel the same nationalist division of sympathy as occurred in 1948. Are you with us or against us? Which side are you on?

    If there is that civil war, then it is LIKELY that the result of the conflict will similarly be ethnic separation, and driven by the superior Israeli military.

    The “hope” that Hezbollah will be sufficiently powerful to compel Israel to not undertake further separation, depends on the confidence that Hezbollah is truly an advocate for universal humanism, a democracy.

    I see NO basis for that hope. The accountability that Hezbollah and Iran pose is currently structured for their opportunism, NOT for social justice.

    • Chaos4700
      August 22, 2010, 2:24 am

      Within green line Palestine there are now 10% Jews, a manageable number for a democracy around a nationalist identity

      See, this is what I don’t get. It’s almost like Zionists are insisting that Jewish identity is somehow incompatible with a nationality other than Israeli.

      I have NEVER heard anyone but a Zionist talk literally that any percentage of Jews were “too much” and would “threaten” the existence of their host nation.

      Can’t you just be American, Witty? Why is that so hard?

  5. Jim Haygood
    August 21, 2010, 1:07 pm

    ‘Most Palestinians — and many on the Israeli left — argue that there are now too many Israeli settlements in the West Bank for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state to arise there.’

    Even if there were no settlements, the Palestinian territories are discontiguous and — in the case of the West Bank — insular, deprived of a coast and a seaport.

    Already, the political split between Gaza and the West Bank indicates a high risk of an East/West Pakistan break-up scenario, leading to not one but two Palestinian states, neither of them economically viable.

    Israel has seized the best Mediterranean coastal real estate. This ‘fact on the ground’ alone undermines the feasibility of a two-state solution, not to mention the creeping settlements.

    Bronner got one thing right: talks which presuppose a two-state solution are a waste of time. Israel wins another year of stalling and settlement building. Ho-hum, nothing new under the sun.

  6. Patrick
    August 21, 2010, 1:26 pm

    “Bronner quickly blames the end of the two state solution on the Palestinians, saying that they have repeatedly rejected Israel offers of Partition. I have some sympathy for this view—if I were Palestinian, I would think, if we hold out long enough, we will get a majority Palestinian state—but then wouldn’t you do the same thing in the same dispossessed situation?”

    It’s important to make a distinction here between the failure to achieve the two-state solution and the present situation which makes this a practical impossibility.

    There was a political process, the Oslo Accords, whose goal was realization of a Palestinian state. To blame the Palestinians for the failure of Oslo seems a bit rich given, for example, recently released statements made by Netanyahu that he acted expressly to undermine the Accords when he was prime minister in the 1990s. The Israeli right was always opposed to Oslo and they worked assiduously so that it would fail.

    As far as the two-state solution having become a practical impossibility, that is a consequence of the continuous expansion of the Israeli settlements and is entirely the responsibility of the government of Israel.

    • Philip Weiss
      August 21, 2010, 4:34 pm

      patrick i think you are removing any agency from palestinian actions. many palestinians were against oslo. maybe they too had a role. you may have noticed i wasn’t blaming anyone, i was seeking to assess

      • tree
        August 21, 2010, 4:51 pm

        But many Palestinians were against Oslo precisely because they believed it would not lead either to an independent Palestinian state or to an improvement in the Palestinian condition. The crux of the matter is not the “success”or “failure”of Oslo, but the failure to end the occupation, the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and the continual denial of Palestinian civil and human rights. And for that the primary blame goes to Israel. Would you blame South African blacks for the continuation of apartheid from the 60’s into the ’90’s? Or for the failure of the bantustans?

      • Sumud
        August 22, 2010, 1:00 am

        But do you actually think any of the deals that were on offer were actually reasonable? If you assess it from the point of view of “this is what Israel wants”, perhaps. But against what Palestinians are entitled to, the offers have been terrible. I know of no single concession Israel has ever made based on this framework – which is the only reasonable framework.

  7. MHughes976
    August 21, 2010, 5:05 pm

    If 2ss is impossible, what should we expect from the Direct Talks? The 2ss idea seems absolutely essential to their credibility. How will it be possible to keep people interested in discussing a proposal that will, if the whole thing’s impossible, never even be put on the table?
    Yet everyone concerned seems badly to need the air of goodwill and reassurance that the talks provide. The westerners especially and even the Israelis seem to need it, though they may well sit at the table and speak in whispers while roaring defiance against Iran.

  8. RoHa
    August 22, 2010, 8:00 am

    So far, none of the Zionist posters have taken up my suggestion of an exclusively Jewish state in 22% of Palestine, based around Eilat, with the rest of the country being a state for all its citizens.

    That would allow the really enthusiastic Zionist to have his Jewish State, while coming closer to providing justice and civil rights for everyone else.

    I wonder why they are so unenthusiastic about it?

  9. DICKERSON3870
    August 22, 2010, 10:20 am

    RE: “…Just making trouble.” – Weiss
    MY COMMENT: You devil, you!

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