This group argues for the “one-state solution,” the merging of the Palestinian and Jewish populations between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea into a single political entity. It is an entirely unworkable and offensive idea, but because it is couched in the language of equality and human rights, rather than murder and anti-Semitism, it has gained currency in certain not-entirely-marginal circles . . .
The one-staters posit that they differ from the Shukairy approach or from the ideology of Hamas. They don’t seek the expulsion of Jews from Palestine, they say, but instead the creation of a unified parliament that would represent all Arabs and Jews between the river and the sea. Instead of two ethnic- based states, they say, there would be one harmonious, pluralistic democracy.
Terrifying idea, isn’t it? Goldberg goes to Gershom Gorenberg to paint the horror that one democratic state could produce in Israel/Palestine:
Gershom Gorenberg, in his new book, “The Unmaking of Israel,” a jeremiad directed at the Jewish settlement movement, writes at length about the absurdity at the heart of the proposal.
“Palestinians will demand the return of property lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame.”
Gorenberg predicts that Israelis of means would flee this new state, leaving it economically crippled. “Financing development in majority-Palestinian areas and bringing Palestinians into Israel’s social welfare network would require Jews to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services. But the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry. Both individuals and companies will leave.”
In the best case, this new dystopia by the sea would be paralyzed by endless argument: “Two nationalities who have desperately sought a political frame for cultural and social independence would wrestle over control of language, art, street names, and schools.” In the worst case, Gorenberg writes, political tensions “would ignite as violence.”
So even Gorenberg acknowledges that the worst case scenario is violence, and most likely the new country would be tied up in fights over “language, art, street names, and schools” – which is to say it would be about as functional as almost any other democracy. Is the threat of Jews paying higher taxes really the best argument liberal Zionists can muster these days?
What goes unsaid in the piece, and what Goldberg really finds “unworkable and offensive” about the idea of democracy in Israel/Palestine, is that Israeli Jews would have to give up the special and exclusive rights they enjoy now as Jews in an ethnocratic state. Equality would seem to be Israel’s greatest existential threat.