Today in an editorial, the New York Times all but throws in the towel on the two-state solution:
With only a year left in office, President Obama is unlikely to make another run at a peace process or even apply serious pressure on Israel to halt settlement-building. With the Kerry and Shapiro speeches, the administration is hoping to prod Israelis and Palestinians to think hard about the future they are creating. Tragically, it may already be too late for the one formula that has the best chance of establishing a durable peace: two independent states, side by side.
What drives this understanding? State Department officials, as the Times states.
Last week the US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, lit up the Israeli establishment with a speech suggesting that Israel was installing apartheid in the West Bank and that it was hurting the United States.
too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities; too much vigilantism goes unchecked; and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.
Hovering over all of these questions is the larger one about Israel’s political strategy vis-à-vis its conflict with the Palestinians. What is Israel’s plan for resolving the conflict? For remaining a Jewish and democratic state?… What tools can Israel provide to assist us in our global diplomatic defense of Israel, to which we will always be committed?
Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry lit up the same government by telling a pro-Israel thinktank in D.C. that there is an “untenable one state reality” taking hold between the river and the sea and that the Israeli government seems to endorse this process. Soon after that he suggested Israel is creating an apartheid state (to David Remnick at the New Yorker): “Will it be a democracy? Will it be a Jewish state? Or will it be a unitary state with two systems, or some draconian treatment of Palestinians, because to let them vote would be to dilute the Jewish state?”
The sad thing about this process is that it should not be the labor of the State Department to acquaint the American elites — via the New York Times editorial board– with the reality in Israel and Palestine. The paper’s own reporters failed miserably in this basic descriptive duty; both Ethan Bronner and Jodi Rudoren failed to report rampant apartheid conditions and the rightwing Israeli polity’s support for the settlers because of what I conclude after long study were Zionist attachments these reporters were never upfront about. A generational attachment to Zionism extends throughout the Times’s chattering department, from Paul Krugman to Thomas Friedman to Roger Cohen to David Brooks (who has lately described the entire occupied West Bank as “Israel”). Cohen and Brooks are at least transparent about it.
Of course, our press generally has failed at this important task– and surely for the same sociocultural reason, because reporters and editors deferred to idealistic Zionists in their own ranks and leadership. Robert Simon tried at 60 Minutes, Karl Vick tried at Time. The Nation did a good job with its Apartheid on Steroids piece of a few years back, but generally the American press has failed a central informational task. NPR has been miserable. The New York Review of Books was too pained by the sight to look (though it managed to publish David Shulman). The New Yorker did publish Yousef Munayyer on the need to imagine a one-state outcome, years ago, but that was an exception; the magazine has largely treated one-state as a threat to Zionist dreams and world order, rather than the lived-reality of Palestinians right now.
So Americans who wanted to understand what is really going on over there have had to rely on witnesses like Diana Buttu, Rula Jebreal, Phyllis Bennis, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah, Munayyer, and Mustafa Barghouti to convey this reality. All of these people have been shunned by the mainstream to one degree or another because of their heresy. Blumenthal said that it was because of the elite’s belief in a “dreamcastle Israel” that his important book never got a hearing in the New York Times or NPR; and he stamped a generation with that remark.
We can only hope that the (relative) bravery of high State officials will enable the media to step up to its duties at last. (And I say this as someone who made a living out of the media’s abdication; I hope that part of my job description ends.)