The screw is turning; American liberal Zionist opinion is turning harshly against Israel the occupier. First Tom Friedman declared early this year, “Let the one-state era begin,” there will never be a Palestinian state. Now Roger Cohen, a true believer in the Jewish state who lately published a book about its enduring importance to him, all but throws in the towel in a long opinion piece in the New York Times titled “Why Israel Still Refuses to Choose.”
Cohen begins by stating the news, to readers of the New York Times anyway, that no one on either side over there believes there will be a Palestinian state:
on one issue there is near unanimity these days: A two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more distant than ever, so unimaginable that it appears little more than an illusion sustained by lazy thinking, interest in the status quo or plain exhaustion.
So maintaining that illusion in American policy and influence circles is actually cruel, and sustains Israel’s policy of managed conflict and American bigotry re Palestinians. Cohen holds out hope that President Obama will send a rebuke to Israel by laying out parameters for a two-state solution in the Security Council —
Israel is strongly opposed. That is the best reason for doing it. As long as Israel has a blank check from Washington and an effective Security Council veto through the United States, nothing will change. And something has to…. The worst thing would be for Western leaders to come up with some new “peace initiative” that would offer a convenient diversion from political responsibility.
But the surprise of the piece is Cohen’s identification with Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel. He chronicles tensions at a dinner party when an entrepreneurial Palestinian couple state their desire to recover property stolen from ancestors during the creation of Israel, and Jewish guests upbraid them. Cohen ends the piece with the Palestinians’ views.
“How can you feel equal when you are not?” Reem [Younis] said, mentioning that she had found it impossible to buy a house in a nearby town because she is an Arab. “Israel needs to be democratic more than Jewish.”
Imad [Younis] believes the personal trumps the political. “One state or two states? Who cares?” he told me. “What matters is human dignity and equality under the same law. Palestinian kids want to live well. That’s what they want.”
If Cohen is not for one state, he is close. Better yet and to his credit, he presents the views of Palestinians who favor one state and equal rights without condescension. This is admirable. Cohen is going against views he has held for his whole life.
H/t James North.