The most noble work inside the American establishment on our issue right now is to challenge our leaders on the two-state solution and say, How do you see that coming to pass? As I frequently say, I’m not against Partition (aren’t they about to do Partition in the Sudan?) but on what terms? What has Israel left the Palestinians with? Does it mean anything to you that Israel keeps stealing water and land and houses every day, and denies Muslims access to Jerusalem?
At Foreign Policy, Steve Walt uses Akiva Eldar’s brave piece in Haaretz on the death of the two-state solution to try and break the news inside the U.S.– and savage Dennis Ross’s responsibility for two-state’s demise. This argument is a noble one because if our leaders start to change their minds on this question, and American Jews start to wake up to democracy, the likelihood of massive bloodshed decreases. Italic is mine:
In what other line of work could someone fail consistently for two decades and still have a job? If you were a baseball manager and your team didn’t make the playoffs for two decades running, you’d have been canned long ago. If you were a CEO and you lost money for twenty straight years, the Board of Directors or the shareholders would have hired a replacement long ago. If you were a dean or a university president and faculty quality, student achievement and the size of the endowment kept declining on your watch, it’s a safe bet you’d be told that your services were no longer required.
But when it comes to U.S. Middle East policy, there is hardly any accountability. And the tragic irony is that advisors like Ross — who make no secret of their deep attachment to Israel — have in fact done an excellent job of scuttling prospects for a two-state solution that is Israel’s best hope of long-term security and international acceptances. After all, the only alternatives to “two states for two peoples” are 1) a binational democracy (which means the end of Zionism), 2) another round of ethnic cleansing (which would be a crime against humanity), or 3) some form of apartheid, with the Palestinians confined to a shrinking set of disconnected enclaves under de facto Israel control. And let’s not forget that this affects us too: our one-sided mismanagement of the “peace process” is one of the main reasons the United States is so unpopular throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
If Eldar is right — and I obviously think he is — then the post-Oslo peace process is over and the two-state solution is either dead or on life support. And as I’ve said repeatedly, if that is the case, then which of the alternatives listed above will the United States support? Which of the various possible solutions to the long conflict over the Holy Land are consistent with America’s supposed commitment to democracy, individual freedom, and basic human rights? (Hint: the United States is a liberal democracy where all races, religions and ethnic group are supposed to enjoy equal rights). When the two-state option is dead and buried and everyone admits it, what will presidents and secretaries of state say when they are asked what alternative they now support? For that matter, how would Dennis Ross answer that question?