Trending Topics:

Why the two-state solution never got anywhere

News
on 24 Comments
A Palestinian youth rides his bicycle next to Israel's "apartheid wall" on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Al Akhbar English)

A Palestinian youth rides his bicycle next to Israel’s “apartheid wall” on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Al Akhbar English)

Andrew Sullivan has posted Dissents of the Day, four comments from pro-Israel readers. I’m going to write about the third one, though arguably the one just above that is equally bad. Both seem to me to exemplify attitudes one commonly finds in many (not all) self-styled liberal Zionists who are also self-styled opponents of occupation. Number three writes:

What’s so maddening and fascinating about me reading you on Israel and Palestine is that I suspect if we boiled down the issues to their core, we would be in total agreement. …

I lived in the West Bank for a year. Security checkpoints are terrible. But I saw, with my own eyes, that they would be loosened – because the army hates having to staff them – and then, within days, a bomb would go off and they would be tightened again. There is a vicious cycle here – with blame to go around

What interests me is that the writer, while undoubtedly sincere in claiming to oppose the occupation, sees the settlements as a reversible real estate deal, not a decades-long policy that wrecks lives and kills people. Apartheid is possible, but still in the future. The only terrorism that registers is violence against Israelis. And Israelis can only fight that terror by maintaining the occupation. The slightest letup and all that wonderful Israeli generosity is rewarded with more Palestinian terror from jihadists and fanatics, supported by a society that glorifies them.

Liberal Zionists often gain credibility in US circles by claiming to be opposed to the occupation, but this seems more like shooting and crying. It’s why the two-state solution, whatever one thinks of it, has never gotten anywhere. As this person sees it, the only leverage the poor helpless Israelis have is their military presence, the occupation itself, and that can only end if the Israelis are completely satisfied there is no danger to themselves. Given that version of reality, it makes no sense to pressure the Israelis. They’re the ones whose lives are on the line. The Palestinians suffer mere inconvenience, something that can be ended whenever they show enough willingness to reassure the Israelis.

In the end, the occupation is not a real human rights violation, not in the same league as terrorism. It’s an act of self defense, in this person’s view, and so one should not expect to see support for pressure on Israel from people who think like this. they are in effect saying that the occupation is bad, but the Israelis have no choice and the Palestinian behavior is much worse.   With opponents like that, the occupation doesn’t need supporters.

Donald
About Donald Johnson

Donald Johnson is a regular commenter on this site, as "Donald."

Other posts by .


Posted In:

24 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss on May 13, 2014, 5:02 pm

    It is a fundamental disconnect. The reason why you had the intifadas were the occupation and Apartheid. So the uprising against Apartheid gives liberal Zionists the notion that they should give up on deepen Apartheid?

    This is what passes for “liberalism” in a Zionist context?

    Maybe now the Zionists can finally understand why most of us think there is little to no siginificant difference between Zionists, whether they are supposed “liberals” or Likudniks. (Who am I kidding?)

  2. Tzombo
    Tzombo on May 13, 2014, 5:14 pm

    “undoubtedly sincere in claiming to oppose the occupation”

    Yeah, not buying that anymore.

  3. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka on May 13, 2014, 5:45 pm

    This is a very insightful argument, although to click over to the Dish is disheartneing, as it is rare to see so much blatent, obvious seething anti-Arab and anti-Iranian hate on display. It’s vile. And the worst part is that as these people are spouting their lies and making excuses for Israeli crimes, they probably believe that nonsense.

    • Donald
      Donald on May 14, 2014, 12:52 pm

      “they probably believe that nonsense.”

      I think they do. That’s what is so depressing about it.

  4. Shingo
    Shingo on May 13, 2014, 6:00 pm

    So if the check points are there to serve as security, how do they justify settlements? What security do they provide that than the need for more check points?

    What about home demolitions?

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones on May 13, 2014, 9:50 pm

      Shingo:

      I think liberal Zionists don’t justify settlements, except to say that it’s a “reality” that has to be accepted. So under their version of the Two state Solution, the Israelis get to keep the main settlements and Palestinians get some extra acres of wildnerness to make up for it. The justification goes something like “too bad, it’s just a reality.”

      Netanyahu has also talked about his demands as “realities” Palestinians must accept. This shows that their talking points are not necessarily so different, unfortunately. When Netanyahu was in the US, he was a fan of JFK.

  5. W.Jones
    W.Jones on May 13, 2014, 7:19 pm

    Good analysis.

  6. LeaNder
    LeaNder on May 13, 2014, 7:39 pm

    This one is not bad either, Donald:

    You are smart enough to know that every decision ultimately stems from myriad choices by many actors. If you really believe that Israel’s alarm over Iran is simply a bait-and-switch, please point to the evidence. You can’t. There is no question Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons and that it has used chemical weapons. It had a president who was a Holocaust denier who spoke about wiping Israel off the map. Understandably, these facts alarmed Israelis of all stripes, including my lefty friends who live there – the same ones who do NOT want to annex the West Bank.

    Iran has used chemical weapons too? I thought that was Iraq. But what do I know.
    But thanks God there is the Voice of Liberty that tell us all we need to know. Not only are they going nuclear no they are also: Ramping up on chemical Weapons.

    Registered with godaddy US:
    GUARDIANLV.COM – Whois Information

    Domain Name: GUARDIANLV.COM
    Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
    Registrant Name: DiMarkco Chandler
    Registrant Organization: CCMA
    Name Server: BEN.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
    Name Server: SARA.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
    DNSSEC: unsigned

    Las Vegas Guardian, Earn a Full Time Living as a Writer for the Las Vegas Guardian Express

    But apart from suspicions and rumors, I seem to have difficulties to find evidence that they actually “used” chemical weapons already. Or can one simply use more general accusations and evidence from the wider Arab/Persian region for new strategic targets?

    • Donald
      Donald on May 14, 2014, 12:45 pm

      “There is no question Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons and that it has used chemical weapons.”

      Yeah, that letter would have been worth writing about as well, but I decided to focus on the faux occupation opponent. Many (not all) self-described opponents of the occupation are in reality supporters of whatever Israel decides to do.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on May 14, 2014, 6:50 pm

      “There is no question Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons and that it has used chemical weapons.”

      What a load of BS. Amazing how this so called liberal Zionist sounds exactly like Netenyahu.

      Israeli nuclear expert: Netanyahu using Iran threat for political gain
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.589534

      Former Israeli Nuclear Head: No Iran Bomb for Ten Years—If They Even Want It
      http://nationalinterest.org/feature/former-israeli-nuclear-head-no-iran-bomb-ten-years%E2%80%94if-they-10431

    • Shingo
      Shingo on May 14, 2014, 6:53 pm

      But apart from suspicions and rumors, I seem to have difficulties to find evidence that they actually “used” chemical weapons already.

      Not only is this grossly dishonest because it omits the fact that Iraq were suing CWs against Iran, but the extraordinary thing is that during the Iraq/Iran war, the military made a strong case for using CWs in response to attacks from Iraq, but the Supreme Leader insisted they stick to the fatwa against the use of WMDs and they did.

      Like I always say, liberal Zionists are just right wing Zionists without the honesty.

  7. W.Jones
    W.Jones on May 13, 2014, 7:43 pm

    I saw, with my own eyes, that they would be loosened – because the army hates having to staff them – and then, within days, a bomb would go off

    She implies that one caused the other- removing the checkpoint led to the bomb going off. Her implication is that the checkpoint is justified, like you interpreted her to mean.

    In reality, she cannot trace the bomb to closing the checkpoint. Even if the checkpoint remained, the perpetrator could still have made a bomb and used it somewhere. One can argue that closing a checkpoint does not have much direct effect on reducing such attacks. However, the important thing for a critical thinking person would be to ask why those attacks are happening in the first place. Is it only about checkpoints? Or is it land confiscation and dispossession that leads people to make attacks? If so, perhaps removing those things would be what counts much more than removing checkpoints.

    Where oh where has the critical thinking gone?

  8. American
    American on May 13, 2014, 8:18 pm

    Er…..what was this guy doing ‘living in the West Bank’?
    Was he a settler?

  9. wondering jew
    wondering jew on May 13, 2014, 10:56 pm

    The clarity of vision that Yeshaya Leibowitz possessed in the aftermath of 1967 is not a dime store item. Most Israelis then and now, wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted to say they were pro peace, but also build settlements, for they are after all reversible.

    To move past 1967 for a moment, Israel was spoiled by Sadat and the achievement of the Israel-Egypt peace. Israel hoped that all future negotiations would resemble that one. But unlike the nature of the peace with Egypt which was primarily one of borders and resulted from negotiations with a leader who did not represent his people, the nature of a peace with Palestine would be one of definition and needs to be negotiated with leaders who are more in touch with their public than Sadat was with the Egyptians.

    Reading Aaron David Miller’s book, although he is a bete noir here at MW (and with Max B.) reveals how unprepared Israel was in 2000 to reach an agreement with Arafat. By January 2001 the peace contingent of Israel (about to lose power to Sharon’s oncoming premiership) was able to sketch the outline of what resulted in the so called Geneva Accord (Beilin- Abd Rabbo) of December 2003. So until 2001, Israel’s peace contingent was not prepared for the extent of the withdrawal from the West Bank that would be necessary to satisfy basic Palestinian border requirements. Olmert’s offer was less than Beilin and Abd Rabbo had agreed upon, and so the lag between the peace contingent and the ruling elite (even of the realistic bent) was revealed.

    The settlement enterprise was a disaster. It can be reversed in theory, but not really. It was designed to kibosh a peace and it has created a constituency that has “succeeded” (in their goals) and with a stake in opposing withdrawal. It was never likely, but if Israel had been able to control the settlement enterprise they would be able to call it reversible. (A pristine occupation with no settlers, was impossible, given the fact that the old city of Jerusalem and the Western Wall were in occupied territory and any expectation of restraint regarding that part of the territories would be based purely on principles and not on human nature.) But the 2014 settler occupation cannot be called reversible and the settlers have taken control to the extent that Netanyahu was not even willing to put a map on the table.

    Thus I assert: the late date of the realization of minimal Palestinian demands by Israel’s peace contingent. The lag between the realistic Olmert and the peace contingent’s offers. The further gap between Netanyahu and Olmert’s mindsets and world views and coalitions. The accumulated effect of the settler enterprise is to control enough of the Knesset to keep their enterprise going and to stymie any realism of the Olmert-Beilin variety. The mindset of “it’s reversible” regarding the settlements is purely of the “have your cake and eat it too” variety.

    • talknic
      talknic on May 14, 2014, 12:44 am

      “.. Israel was spoiled by Sadat and the achievement of the Israel-Egypt peace. Israel hoped that all future negotiations would resemble that one. “

      Keep lying to yourself… Israel was first required (and agreed in the peace treaty) to withdraw from ALL territory sovereign to Egypt before peaceful relations were assumed. In Palestine, Israel keeps demanding more non-Israeli territory, builds more illegal settlements, refuses to withdraw

      “…unlike the nature of the peace with Egypt which was primarily one of borders and resulted from negotiations with a leader “

      Borders were not negotiated, they existed from the time Egypt gained independence. Negotiations were on the method and timing of withdrawal to Egypt’s existing borders and what was to transpire after withdrawal.

      “It was never likely, but if Israel had been able to control the settlement enterprise …”

      Uh? The Government has encouraged it for 66 years.

      “A pristine occupation with no settlers, was impossible, given the fact that the old city of Jerusalem and the Western Wall were in occupied territory and any expectation of restraint regarding that part of the territories would be based purely on principles and not on human nature.”

      That ol’ ziocaine sure is strong stuff

      • eljay
        eljay on May 14, 2014, 10:57 am

        >> That ol’ ziocaine sure is strong stuff

        Mix it with “Jewish street creds” and there’s absolutely no doubt that everything wrong with the I-P conflict, from…
        – the idea of a colonialist and supremacist “Jewish State”, to
        – the terrorism and ethnic cleansing employed to create it, to
        – the 60+ year and ON-GOING campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder used to secure and expand it,
        …is entirely the fault of “the Arabs”.

    • Donald
      Donald on May 14, 2014, 12:49 pm

      “The mindset of “it’s reversible” regarding the settlements is purely of the “have your cake and eat it too” variety.”

      That’s a good way to put it. If I didn’t already have the post up, I’d steal that.

      What do you think is going to happen, Yonah? I have no long term predictions. On the American side, the Obama Administration with the help of the mainstream press (I’m thinking especially of the NYT editors) are pretending that the US is a neutral arbiter, but can’t get anywhere because both sides are unwilling to make compromises. In reality, the US will continue to support Israel and that’s all the Israeli government cares about. That’s the short run. I don’t have a clue about the long run.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on May 14, 2014, 10:27 pm

        Donald,
        I don’t know what will happen. Beinart has stated that the peace process is dead for the rest of the Obama administration and possibly forever. Larry Derfner wrote recently here that he gives the peace process ten more years. He seems to feel that BDS, UN and EU sensibilities will pressure Israel and that will result in some change (he didn’t specify how, but I am speculating on his behalf here: either in individual leaders or in the voting of the public). Personally I think there is a better chance for an individual leader to “see the light” than it is likely that there would be some conversion of the voting public.

        (There is a glimmer of light offered by the alienation of the religious parties, meaning the ultra Orthodox, from Likud. That is: given the right constellation of events, because of their interests, even though their constituents are primarily hawkish, they would nonetheless line up with a “peace prime minister” (someone other than Netanyahu, to the left of Netanyahu) because of their interests.) But it is merely a glimmer and nothing to really inspire hope.

        (After the death of Rabin there was Ehud Barak to represent the combination of hard headed realism and the tendency towards negotiation. In fact Barak did not work out so well.

        (And Rabin would have been 92 by now. Rabin was no saint, but just ask Israeli Arabs or Israeli Palestinians who was the prime minister that made the strongest effort to include the Arab sector in the advancement of Israeli society and I think there is no question that Rabin was head and shoulders above the rest, even if not ideal. His concept of a two state solution was really not up to snuff (certainly not up to the Beilin conception), but as I wrote until 2000 the peace contingent itself had not yet faced up to the realities of the reasonable parameters of an agreement.)

        The upshot of the last few paragraphs: There is no peacenik general on the horizon with the credentials of Rabin or Barak to present a realistic possibility of public support for a peace move based upon belief in a man who enters office as a peacenik. The other possibility is a prime minister who changes on the job, a la de Klerk (or a la Sharon withdrawing from Gaza). Netanyahu, I am convinced, is not that man, so aside from the glimmer of the possible defection of the ultra Orthodox to the peace camp, I don’t see Israel changing its own mind.

        (Once in a while there are headlines about business leaders in Israel who have faced up to reality and so the line of thought exists, but I don’t see the leader who can make that pivot.)

        I can’t see Obama or Hillary making an all out effort on peace. Jeb Bush maybe, but the Republican party is not very realism based these days, so if Jeb reflects his party instead of his father, even Jeb Bush is iffy. Then the question ends up as when will the Democratic party reflect its constituents rather than its key money people? Such a change would take years. So maybe the Democratic party is the key. (Max B. in his speech to the Friends in Brooklyn indicated this Achilles heel of Israel support. But such a change in the Democratic Party would not happen overnight.)

        (In fact Americans of all stripes, both red and blue states, are pretty isolationist these days: Fix our own house and let the world fend for itself. And thus both parties would seem to be vulnerable to pulling away from Israel. But it is the Democratic constituency that sees this as something near and dear to their heart. In other words: Republicans want to come home, whereas Democrats want to back the underdog/the cause of justice.)

        I don’t know if I have added any thoughts that might add up to half a clue.

      • Donald
        Donald on May 14, 2014, 11:50 pm

        Well, you know the Israeli political scene better than me, but that sounded about as pessimistic as my vague impressions would have it.

        As for the US, I think your pessimism is probably justified here as well. My sense (not based on polls, just what I see at a handful of liberal blogs) is that well-informed liberal Democrats–not politicians, just commenters at blogs– are tired of Israel, but this hasn’t translated into major shifts with our politicians. I doubt the 2016 Presidential campaign will hinge in any significant way on Israel. Other issues are more important to most people.
        For those who do see it as significant, obviously most politicians feel the safe position to take is to be in favor of Israel no matter what. I don’t see that changing in two years. I could be wrong.

  10. wes
    wes on May 14, 2014, 7:35 am

    talknic says:
    May 14, 2014 at 12:44 am

    “That ol’ ziocaine sure is strong stuff”

    you got it wrong …there is stronger stuff

    start with this………..isaiah 11:12

    “He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth”

    its happening right now …in this century,in this year,in this hour.right now.

    it is a powerful thing ,belief,a lot stronger than “ol’ ziocaine”.

    • talknic
      talknic on May 14, 2014, 11:04 pm

      @ wes Uh huh. That’d be the G-d who was AWOL during the Holocaust?

      Say, when isaiah 11:12 was written did the ‘ends of the earth’ include the round parts or just the flat part there was a ‘belief’ in? Did the sun and stars circle the earth because there was a ‘belief’ they did?

  11. Les
    Les on May 14, 2014, 10:25 am

    From today’s Guardian “The moral consequences of zionism.”

    The differences between Ilan Pappe and Ari Shavit.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/14/idea-israel-ilan-pappe-promised-land-ari-shavit-review

    • Boomer
      Boomer on May 14, 2014, 11:10 am

      Re: “The moral consequences of zionism”

      Thanks to Les for the link. That is an excellent review, and an excellent summary of the situation.

  12. MHughes976
    MHughes976 on May 15, 2014, 10:46 am

    Just wanted to thank Donald for an extremely perceptive analysis of the implications of the concept of security so utterly dominant in the West – and to add that the 2ss is always going nowhere so long as Zionism, which cannot accept any non-Jewish residence in Palestine by right rather than by grace, controls all the destinations.

Leave a Reply