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In the Chicago Tribune, Mearsheimer explains why ‘the Zionist dream’ is in danger

Israel/Palestine
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I once did a post showing how John Mearsheimer used to be published in the New York Times all the time before he made the mistake of opposing the Iraq war. Of course better things were yet to come, the Israel lobby, and Mearsheimer became a nonperson. But look, the Chicago Tribune has picked up last week’s Palestine Center lecture, and published a piece in which John Mearsheimer makes a logical argument we rarely hear in the mainstream, Israel has killed the two-state solution and is thereby delegitimizing the Jewish state. Mearsheimer demonstrates here that he is a two-state guy, which is why I’ve always wondered why J Street doesn’t try and make common cause with him. That would be a powerful coalition. The problem is that the Jewish leadership simply does not wish to empower non-Jewish critics of Israel. Mearsheimer:

The two-state solution is the best of these alternatives, but most Israelis are opposed to making the sacrifices that would be necessary to create a viable Palestinian state. There are about 480,000 settlers in the occupied territories and an extensive infrastructure of connector and bypass roads, not to mention the settlements themselves….Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to expanding the settlements throughout the occupied territories.

Of course, there are prominent Israelis like former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who do favor a two-state solution. But that does not mean that they would be willing or able to make the concessions necessary to create a legitimate Palestinian state. Olmert did not do so when he was prime minister, and it is unlikely that he or Livni could get enough of their fellow citizens to back a genuine two-state solution. The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right over the past decade, and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement they could turn to for help.

Some advocates of a two-state solution believe the Obama administration can compel Israel to accept a two-state outcome. The United States, after all, is the most powerful country in the world and should have great leverage over Israel, because it gives the Jewish state so much diplomatic and material support.

But no American president can pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. The main reason is the Israel lobby, a powerful coalition of American Jews and Christian evangelicals that has a profound influence on U.S. Middle East policy. Alan Dershowitz was spot on when he said, "My generation of Jews … became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fundraising effort in the history of democracy."

Consider that every American president since 1967 has opposed settlement building, yet none has been able to get Israel to stop building them. There is little evidence that Obama is different from his predecessors. Shortly after taking office, he demanded that Israel stop all settlement building in the occupied territories. Netanyahu refused and Obama caved in to him…

Olmert said that if the two-state solution collapses, Israel will face a "South African-style struggle." He went so far as to argue, "as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished."

Olmert is correct. A Jewish apartheid state is not sustainable over the long term. The discrimination and repression that underpin apartheid are antithetical to core Western values. How could anyone make a moral case for it in the United States, where democracy is venerated and segregation and racism are routinely condemned? It is equally hard to imagine the United States having a "special relationship" with an apartheid state. It is much easier to imagine Americans strongly opposing that racist state’s political system and working hard to change it. An apartheid Israel would also be a strategic liability for the United States.

This is why, in the end, Greater Israel will become a democratic binational state, whose politics will be dominated by its Palestinian citizens. This will mean the end of the Zionist dream.

What is truly remarkable about this situation is that the lobby is effectively helping Israel destroy its own future as a Jewish state. On top of that, there is an alternative outcome that would be relatively easy to achieve and is clearly in Israel’s best interests: the two-state solution. It is hard to understand why Israel and its American supporters are not working overtime to create a viable Palestinian state and why instead they are moving full-speed ahead to build an apartheid state. It makes no sense from either a moral or a strategic perspective.

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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