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Two friends argue about the two-state solution

on 13 Comments

A hut in a New York state park in winter. Late afternoon, snowing. Three friends sit at a table.

A. David Brooks disgraced himself with that piece saying the Haitians were responsible for the earthquake because they’re poor.

B. But is there no Haitian agency at all in their situation? Where is their government?

C. We propped up their dictators for decades.

B. These people led a successful slave revolt, 200 years ago.

A. You can’t blame them.

B. It’s not about blame. It’s about people having some agency for their society.

C. You should read that piece by the Guns, Germs and Steel guy. He understands all that.

B. Look, I think there is Palestinian agency. They are the victims, and the Israelis are oppressors. But there is Palestinian agency in the fact that there aren’t two states.

A. I blame Arafat.

B. You blame Arafat?

A. Yes. I blame Arafat for rejecting that deal.

B. The deal improved from Camp David in summer to Taba in winter. Why should he have accepted it?

A. That is a nuance. You are avoiding the point. I’m talking about a refusal to accept the Israelis as partners for discussion. The Palestinians refuse to accept them even to negotiate.

B. The Arab states agreed to accept them in 2002.

A. Before that. Camp David. That was a terrible mistake.

B. I do think some of the Palestinians want to revolutionize ’48 and they have always wanted that and they can wait out the Israelis and there will be one state.

A. That is what I’m talking about. You can’t do that. I don’t care about their fucking biblical reasons for being there, and who owns the land. They’re there. Facts on the ground are powerful facts, as the Israelis figured out. You can’t get rid of them.

B. It is one state right now.

A. You’re missing the political psychology of this. Both sides have a sense of victimhood that entitles them to whatever dream they can come up. You are not going to end the idea of a Jewish state, people want it. It’s there, you have to recognize it.

B. And they have nukes and they like to kill Palestinians.

A. Exactly– they have nukes.

B. Within the ‘67 borders?

A. Yes. Get out of the fucking territories.

B. So let me get this right: you are accepting a 62-year-old occupation, achieved by ethnic cleansing, going well beyond the original borders set by UN Partition, but you are rejecting a 43 year old one.

A. You are trying to split hairs. It can’t work that way. You should want peace. That is what we should all want. And one state won’t happen. It would only come with war, that is what we should all want to avoid. And our country would be on the wrong side, that is what I’m worried about.

B. Things change. Ideas change.

A. Yes they do. But I don’t think you’re going to end this idea. Your side is winning. Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein have come over, that’s big, but you’re not going to end the idea of a Jewish state.

B. South Africa changed.

A. Yes and this is more like Bosnia, that is what I’m saying.

B. The problem with your idea is: It is one state right now. If you go over there, it’s under one nation’s control. It’s all one state, so now it’s just a question of fairness and democracy.

A. I understand that. That’s why I say, get rid of the settlements.

B. I don’t think it will happen.

A. It has to happen. Look at the alternative. It’s another war, and they push them out. They will do what X said. You know him. He’s C’s friend. He’s a Zionist. After that goddamn Gaza thing he said, They should have finished the job, and pushed them all out.

B. They will never get away with it. You can’t push them out. You get the Palestinian diaspora multiplied. All the festering anger for decades, and 22 Arab countries surrounding, and unending violence. It won’t work.

C. (Rolling a cigarette) Take it outside.

A. Well this is why you have to accept the 67 borders.

B. A lot of Palestinians don’t want that. Partition gave them half the state. And it keeps getting chewed away and chewed away and after 60 years of promises they still don’t have a state.

A. I know. Listen–I’m on your side here.

B. So they’re playing a waiting game.

A. And it’s a terrible game. It’s just more war with a lot of innocent people dying.

B. Obama can’t even get ’67 borders. He folded.

A. The game hasn’t been played yet. He will stand up on that.

B. He hasn’t. He folded.

A. I’m telling you, the game hasn’t been played. The game hasn’t been played. His plate is full. He has healthcare and the economy and Afghanistan and Iraq and other stuff. You can’t be romantic about this and maintain a fantasy of one state, it won’t happen without huge war. And you should be against that. Cheerfully going down the road toward one state and liberation of the Palestinians—well everyone, maybe including us, will be dead. You have to think about actual outcomes.

B. I don’t know what we can control. It’s already one state, and the Palestinians have to accept Israel or not on their own. And meantime their alleged state is divided by these maniac settlers on the best land. And you say, 67 lines.

A. Yes, with land swaps– yes. Cut the deal. Make a deal. This is why I blame Arafat.

B. Jerusalem stopped Camp David. It’s the third holiest site in the Islamic world. They’ve been warring over Jerusalem for 1000s of years. Arafat couldn’t give up Jerusalem.

A. I think that’s another nuance. And to me, the moral issue is not who took the land from who, but how to avoid nuclear war or genocide, or permanent, disgusting apartheid supported by America.

B. Do you wonder about a viable Palestinian state, nearly cut in half by settlements, and 30 miles from Gaza. Is that viable?

A. Yes. I do wonder about that.

C. Take it outside.

A and B get up from the table. B sits on a bunk. A goes to the window in the door.

B. There’s half a cigar out there.

A. Yes but I’m afraid it’s been snowed on. Look, I’m on your side but you–I think you’re blinding yourself to the politics of this. Maybe you’re arguing that you can get to one state without a high apocalypse risk and if that’s true, then I could get behind it, but I don’t think it’s true. So you’re in danger of advocating a kind of nihilism.

C. Take it outside

A goes outside and finishes his cigar. B lies down on his bunk.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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