Over the weekend, The New York Times ran an article titled, “The Jerusalem Issue, Explained,” which was forthright about the fact that Israel faces an apartheid-style struggle for equal rights.
Max Fisher, a columnist for the paper, concluded realistically that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has in all likelihood ended the peace process. And that means that Israel must decide whether it wants to be a democracy.
All of that points toward a future in which peace is less likely, a Palestinian state is less likely and Israel is one day forced to choose between the two core components of its national identity: Jewish and democratic. Either it asserts permanent control over Palestinians without granting them full rights — a sort of state that critics sometimes compare to apartheid South Africa — or it grants Palestinians full rights, establishing a pluralistic democracy that is no longer officially Jewish.
I like the lack of sentimentalism over the end of a Jewish state. After all, most liberals endorse the principle of separation of church and state.
Fisher’s last line is blunt:
Mr. Trump’s move likely edges Israelis and Palestinians closer to that future. But things were probably moving in that direction already.
This is a very good intervention by the Times because a good number of Zionists are seeking to maintain that the two-state solution is alive and well, precisely so that no one can accuse Israel of practicing apartheid. This is the approach taken by Ehud Barak, Gilead Sher, Natan Sharansky, Alon Ben-Meir and others. They know that if the two-state solution is declared over, Israel loses its legitimacy/figleaf, it’s just a permanent occupier. So they need to insist that the two-state solution is alive.
Journalism like Fisher’s makes this juggling act more difficult for Israel’s defenders to pull off.
I must register my irritation with Fisher’s analysis of the problem though. Like everyone else, he blames America’s loss of neutrality in the Israel/Palestine conflict on evangelical Christians, with rightwing Jews riding in the sidecar.
the policy of neutrality has grown contentious in American politics since the 1980s and the rise of the evangelical Christian right as a political force.
Evangelical Christians have been joined by a subset of American Jews and others on the political right in arguing that the United States should overtly back Israel in the conflict. This position hardened during the second intifada, a period of vicious Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the early 2000s.