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The two-state solution is a cruel delusion, and an idol in Washington

Opinion
on 25 Comments

In a couple of weeks J Street will have its conference in Washington, featuring a lot of Democratic presidential hopefuls, and it will say that the two-state solution is alive, the dream will never die! Then in November, another liberal Zionist group, the Israel Policy Forum is holding an annual event in New York that will argue that we need to “preserve conditions for a future two-state solution.” 

The Democratic presidential candidates all recite the mantra, they support the two-state solution: a Palestinian state and Israel side by side. Some day, somehow.

The news is that this claim is becoming more anachronistic and conservative by the minute. Yesterday on the Senate floor, Chris Murphy of Connecticut admitted that it’s never going to happen:

“Under Trump’s watch, the two state solution in Israel, a longtime bipartisan lynchpin of American policy in the Middle East has effectively fallen apart. Trump has allowed Israel to take steps that make a future Palestinian state almost impossible.”

Chris Murphy on the Senate floor talking about the two-state solution, Oct. 16, 2019. Screenshot from CSPan, cropped.

Yousef Munayyer has a piece out at Foreign Affairs making the point that Everyone knows it’s a delusion.

“[R]eality has set in. The two-state solution is dead. And good riddance: it never offered a realistic path forward. The time has come for all interested parties to instead consider the only alternative with any chance of delivering lasting peace: equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state.”

Ian Lustick, the Penn scholar, just published a book called Paradigm Lost making this same argument. “For five decades I have wrestled with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, struggling to find paths to peace and justice via a two-state solution,” he says. “This book is my attempt to understand why that goal became unattainable.  From that analysis I have gained new hope for a genuinely democratic future.  The one-state reality is ugly and brutal, but it is also dynamic.”

The reasons the two-state solution is dead are clear to anyone who pays attention. There are 650,000 Israeli “settlers” living on territory that was supposed to be part of the Palestinian state, including East Jerusalem, and Israel has no desire/intention/will to yield that land, and btw, those settlers are heavily-armed and can vote in Israeli elections and their Palestinian neighbors can’t. Only marginal politicians in Israel run on the two-state solution; occupied Palestine is just another part of Israel in their discourse. The United States has of course completely refused to put any pressure on Israel for decades as it built settlements, and even Palestinian public opinion appears to be shifting away from the goal of sovereignty (if not for overwhelming endorsement of a single state).

We can all speculate about why Washington is so stubborn about the two-state solution. My answer is that Zionists have political sway in the Democratic Party and admitting there’s just one state means abandoning the Zionist dream of Jewish sovereignty, a dream that became a “miracle” and a historical exigency too in the wake of the Holocaust. Great ideologies die hard.

Whatever the reason, Democrats and liberal Zionists are flat-earthers: they deny the one-state reality. The Republicans and evangelicals are actually more realistic, inasmuch as they’re happy with apartheid. Though even “liberal” Zionists warn about the “demographic… threat” posed by Palestinians.

So the question is, What pressure is there inside the Democratic Party and liberal Zionist organizations to acknowledge the one-state reality and at least praise the movement for equal rights in Israel/Palestine?

That seems to me the responsibility of a great number of progressives, from Palestinian solidarity organizations to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to news sites like ours to Jewish advocacy groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. I think IfNotNow is afraid to say the two state solution is dead because that would mean abandoning the dream of a Jewish democracy, which some in its community surely still believe in. But even John Kerry said three years ago the two-state solution was almost dead, and how progressive was he?

Throwing out the two-state solution means abandoning not just an article of faith in Washington but an international consensus. That was always Norman Finkelstein’s rationale, isn’t it better to end this conflict than to hold out for an ideal of justice that is a recipe for bloodshed?

The answer is that Palestinians have experienced nothing but violence, disenfranchisement and diminution of their possessions throughout the two-state era. So they are the rightful leaders of this discussion. Their movement of nonviolent resistance has been inspiring internationally, in much the way that the civil rights and South African struggles once were, and the two-state consensus in Europe is beginning to fragment.

Today the goal of all American activists ought to be simple, to amplify Palestinian voices in the American discourse, so as to counter the Zionist ones with the truth about what a Jewish democracy has meant for its non-Jewish subjects.

The Democratic establishment is resisting that process by all means. That’s what the AIPAC group inside the Democratic Party is doing when it denounces Bernie Sanders’s braintrust as people who “hate Israel.” That’s what Bari Weiss and Batya-Ungar-Sargon are doing when they say that 97 percent of Jews are Zionists, and anti-Zionists are anti-Semitic. They are trying to bind the Democrats to a traditional constituency, Israel supporters, and maintain that orthodoxy among liberal Zionists and Democratic candidates, too.

So Zionism destroyed the two-state solution, but Zionists don’t want anyone to say it’s dead.

The progressive base of the party, including many Jews, is too well informed to crumble. They understand that the choice is apartheid or democracy. This is a long struggle, and the facts are on our side.

Thanks to Peter Voskamp and Scott Roth and Jonathan Ofir. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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25 Responses

  1. DaBakr on October 17, 2019, 8:03 pm

    While probably correct on the left wing democrat party dilemma, there is no “cruel” two stars delusion with Palestinians or their voices. Either they are in the camp with hamas which is a whole different delusion, in the camp of the kleptocratic and otherwise not interested in their peoples progress or well being or the are in the camp with non Jewish Arab Israeli citizens, as in, they will continue to wait for whatever bomb goes off first. Demographic, foreign instigators (with no common culture or borders or even religion to fuel their hatred) with terrorist proxy non governmental militias as their vanguard or economic meltdown, the Arabs, like always will persist until either something gives, something breaks or some people decide, collectively, they can’t continue to fight.
    I dont see who this supposed delusion of a 2ss is so cruel to except bleeding hearts that don’t live in the region and are always looking to be outraged at the ‘others’ predicament rather then their own back yard.
    Case in point…. MW commenters undoubtedly like the tyrant Erdogans strong anti Israel rhetoric and occasional actions but are suddenly SHOCKED that he would act to stop an actual physical rebellion not in Syria but in Turkey itself where most Turks who don’t support Erdogan are not at all happy with the kurds and their rebellion. But the left (and right) are crying bloody murder simply because the American msm is to lazy to report that kurds are not monolithic and there is a big difference between the Kurdish autonomous state in iraq and the YPK in Syria/turkey.
    That said, I’m totally for a Kurdish national homeland. But anti zionist folks will have to reckon with how close Israeli and Kurdish ties are (and also figure out exactly which kurds) before they continue to scream about trump.

    They also will have to reckon with long standing alliances between the US and nato member turkey as much as Israel has had to reckon with keeping its Turkish channels open despite its flourishing alliance with Greece. When Erdogan is overthrown by the millions of Turks that are sick of his blatent corruption and despotism the world will be dealing with a different turkey, once again.

    Maybe the far left so-called progressive democrat in the US is having a difficult time dealing with the true ‘cruelty’. That hyper-focusing on Israel will never solve the byzantine complexities of the middle east and that the picture is SO much larger then it was, even just a decade ago, that the Palestinian cause is still hyped but in reality is being left behind by much of the emerging economies of the present

    • Misterioso on October 18, 2019, 9:29 am

      @DaBakr

      Let’s cut to the chase:

      In a just world, the entity referred to as “Israel”, a serial/escalating violator of hard won international law, would have long since been booted out of the United Nations and subjected to severe international sanctions.

    • eljay on October 18, 2019, 12:52 pm

      || @Daa @ October 17, 2019, 8:03 pm ||

      That’s a rather long-winded way of asserting that Israel has no choice – no choice! – but to continue to:
      – exist as a religion-supremacist state;
      – steal, militarily occupy and colonize territory outside of its / Partition borders;
      – commit (war) crimes deliberately and with impunity;
      – ignore its moral and/or legal obligations (incl. RoR and reparations); and
      – undermine international laws and human rights and the protections they are meant to afford all people.

      I know, I know: Israel is a “moral beacon” and a “light unto the nations” and it’s not as bad as Saudi Arabia, Mali, African “hellholes”, etc.

      • DaBakr on October 18, 2019, 11:58 pm

        @ej

        “no choice” is a peculiar way to frame the situation. It would apply to China. Putin, Erdogan, The tyrannical expansionist mullah regime, The US and yes, the murderous Assad clan. Numerous other as well. Your an idealist to the core.

      • eljay on October 19, 2019, 9:31 am

        || @aba: @ej

        “no choice” is a peculiar way to frame the situation. It would apply to China. Putin, Erdogan, The tyrannical expansionist mullah regime, The US and yes, the murderous Assad clan. Numerous other as well. Your an idealist to the core. ||

        I oppose anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred and violence against people. But anti-Semitism and numerous other forms of hatred and violence against people continue to exist.

        According to your Zionist “logic”:
        – whataboutism is valid justification for anti-Semitism; and
        – only “an idealist to the core” could/would/should oppose it.

        With friends like Zionists, Jews really don’t need enemies.

    • bcg on October 18, 2019, 4:18 pm

      @Debakr: ” I dont see who this supposed delusion of a 2ss is so cruel to…”

      It’s cruel to all the Palestinians being tortured in Israeli jails.

      https://www.btselem.org/topic/torture

      • DaBakr on October 19, 2019, 12:00 am

        @bcg

        Most of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have no “delusion” about what they are doing there and why.

  2. dsowd on October 18, 2019, 11:56 am

    Murphy wants to show his Democratic colleagues that he’s on the Trash Trump team, but the bogus “two-state solution” was dead long before this president.

  3. genesto on October 18, 2019, 1:13 pm

    Actually, the two-state solution started to die not long after Oslo, well over 20 years ago, by the time there were hundreds of thousands of West Bank settlers requiring relocation to create this mythical state. It’s just taken a very long time for reality to set in for those who, for cultural, religious or even political reasons, could not face the alternatives.

  4. mondonut on October 18, 2019, 2:58 pm

    Their movement of nonviolent resistance has been inspiring internationally…
    This part is laughable.

    That said, a 2SS has almost nothing to do with the US, Europe or anyone other than the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. If there is an agreement of any type, there will be peace. If both sides (current status quo) believe they can win by waiting, then peace will wait as well.

    So the 2SS remains as viable as any of the various One State options, and those who are intent to take it off the table (Phil) appear more motivated by the demise of Israel than the prospect of peace.

    • Mooser on October 18, 2019, 7:32 pm

      “That said, a 2SS has almost nothing to do with the US, Europe or anyone other than the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”

      Yes, of course. The US paying for Israel’s military and guaranteeing Israel’s “security” makes no difference at all.
      Israel would act exactly the same without it. Or Israel could just go to the Russians and get everything they need.

  5. echinococcus on October 18, 2019, 4:03 pm

    “Actually, the two-state solution started to die not long after Oslo…”

    When was it ever alive, then?
    “Two-state solution” is the name for an excuse for Western colonialist governments to fully support the theft of Palestine and the genocide of its owners. It’s always been that. Anyone who suggests there has ever been an intention of creating a second state in Palestine should point to any evidence in facts, not official speech.

  6. brent on October 22, 2019, 12:58 am

    Congress has for so long proclaimed the 2SS because they intuitively know supporting an official apartheid state would not be politically viable in America. So they take a “safe” position even though they know a 2SS is not viable. For this reason, it is prudent for Palestinian citizens of Israel to campaign for equality under the law because doing so forces into the open those who oppose an overall 1SS because they want a racist state. The sooner the racism is exposed for ALL to see, the sooner an agreement can happen.

    As acts of mutual respect unfold, tolerance for hatefulness will get washed aside, not tolerated by either side These people are cousins and can return to acting like it.

    • Mooser on October 22, 2019, 12:10 pm

      “These people are cousins and can return to acting like it.”

      While Arabs have been most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Barkley Square, an Israeli only sees the sights a guy can see from Trump Settlement Heights, yet they are cousins!
      We are identical cousins! And you’ll find: We look alike, we walk alike, at times we even talk alike! You could lose your mind!.

      (Now, Israel doesn’t mind being a cousin to the Palestinians, they just want them once or twice ‘removed’)

    • eljay on October 22, 2019, 12:33 pm

      || brent: Congress has for so long proclaimed the 2SS because they intuitively know supporting an official apartheid state would not be politically viable in America. … ||

      So…who told Congress that the only options available to support were a 2SS or “an official apartheid state”?

      If members of Congress wanted to, they could have been calling for and supporting a one-secular-and-democratic-state solution all along.

      But they haven’t because they – like other Western politicians – willingly, fearfully and/or benjaminly support Zionism and its supremacist “Jewish State” construct.

      Your comment sounds like a joke but I have a feeling that you’re actually serious.

      • Mooser on October 22, 2019, 1:50 pm

        “Your comment sounds like a joke but I have a feeling that you’re actually serious.”

        Oh, I’m sure “brent” is quite serious. He’s calculated the odds, and wants to be on the winning side. After all, one day, it’s inevitable, we will wake up and everything will be the opposite of what we think it’s been.
        But I trust “brent”, I don’t think he will descend to “I-told-you-so’s” when that happens. He’ll be nice about it.

  7. Nathan on October 23, 2019, 7:49 am

    This article claims that the two-state solution is “dead”, but (not surprisingly) there is never any mention of the terminology “one-state solution”. The word “solution” – either in its two-state or one-state form – means quite obviously that the conflict will be solved. No anti-Israel activist ever makes any promises to the Jewish public that (with the demise of the State of Israel – the present Jewish state – and its replacement by a different political entity) the conflict will be over. A very honest anti-Israel intellectual, the late Prof. Edward Sa’id, is on record saying that he is worried about what will be the fate of the Israeli Jews after the undoing of their state. In short, it is obvious that the conflict with the Jews will not be solved with the establishment of the one-state envisioned in this article. Therefore, this article tells us that the two-state solution is “dead”, but there is no mention of the one-state solution being alive. Right now, there is no solution, period.

    Let’s state clearly the very basics of political logic. The two-state solution is always an option on the table. ALWAYS. If the two sides reach an agreement to end their conflict, and if this end-of-conflict agreement includes a two-state arrangment, then there will be the two-state solution. The claim that the presence of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has ended the prospect of a two-state solution is mere propaganda meant for western idiots. If there will be a willingness to end the conflict, obviously the issue of settlements will be worked out. Right now, there isn’t such a willingness, and therefore (in Palestinian view) all Jewish towns and villages are illegitimate (including Tel-Aviv), just as the very presence of the Hebrew-speaking community in the country is (in this view) illegitimate.

    This brings us to the very absurdity of the entire article. Phil tells us that the progressives of the Democratic party understand “that the choice is apartheid or democracy”. How silly can the progressives be? There is a conflict between two peoples, each side having its own motivation for being in conflict and for continuing the struggle. What is this motivation? Well, the progressives don’t know and they couldn’t care less. They have decided for those other peoples in conflict what their conflict is all about.

    Perhaps, it would be helpful to put in simplistic terms what this conflict is all about. The Jewish side is motivated by an ancient dream of returning to its lost homeland. It’s not about the Holocaust. The revival of Hebrew is the clue to the Jewish motivation: It’s about a renaissance of Jewish life. The Arab side of the conflict is motivated by the necessity to prove the truth of the Islamic civilization. With the rise of Islam, the former civilizations (prior to Islam) are deemed irrelevant. The return of the Jews and the re-establishment of their sovereignty in the country are viewed as an attack on the truth of Islam through the rebirth of a pre-Islamic reality. It’s not about democracy.

    Of course, in the propaganda war, both sides present a case that could be understood by outsiders; hence, Phil seems to believe that the case for the Jews is the Holocaust, and the case for the Palestinians is democracy. But, alas, this is not the conflict at all.

    • eljay on October 23, 2019, 8:24 am

      || Nathan: Perhaps, it would be helpful to put in simplistic terms what this conflict is all about. … ||

      It would, so here it is: Zionists believed – and continue to believe – that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to hold it the right:
      – to be supremacists;
      – to have as large as possible a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”; and
      – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

      The conflict is a result of Zionists choosing to implement their hateful and immoral beliefs in geographic Palestine and at the expense of its indigenous population.

      || … The Jewish side is motivated by an ancient dream of returning to its lost homeland. … ||

      Geographic Palestine was not and still is not the ancient / eternal / historic / one true / lost homeland of every person in the world – of every citizens of every homeland throughout the world – who has chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

      || … It’s not about the Holocaust. … ||

      You wouldn’t know it from the way Zionists routinely use the Holocaust as justification for their colonialism, (war) crimes and supremacism.

    • Mooser on October 23, 2019, 12:35 pm

      “The Jewish side…”

      Can we get a mathematical value for “the Jewish side”, so we can use it as a constant in our calculations? Cause if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that Jews and Judaism and Jewishness never change. (That’s due to the iron discipline, both political and religious imposed by Jewish leaders, whoever they are)
      And just think of all the people we are irrevocably adding to “the Jewish side” by out-marriage, too!

    • brent on October 23, 2019, 8:24 pm

      “Nathan” No doubt the goal has to be a resolution/solution. Perhaps some details about the possibilities of dealing with the settlements, cities, in the land taken by force in 1967 to make a 2SS work.

      What has been standing in the way of elevating Arab citizens to full dignity and rights in Israel? Does a renaissance entail exclusive rights?

      You assert “The Arab side of the conflict is motivated by the necessity to prove the truth of the Islamic civilization.” If that was the case, how could it have happened the initial position of the PLO was for a secular, democratic state with equality for all. You do know that was reason for attacking. How would you explain Arab/Jewish relations being neighborly until the influx of immigrants and the notion there was a land without a people for a people without a land?

      Much has been made about which side is clashing with civilization. It seems to me the promise of the UN, the integrity of international law, taking territory by force, has been put in jeopardy so progressives have reason to seek resolution.

    • RoHa on October 23, 2019, 10:18 pm

      “The Arab side of the conflict is motivated by the necessity to prove the truth of the Islamic civilization. “

      I didn’t know that. I thought it was motivated by Arabs being upset that their land and property were stolen, their relatives raped and murdered, and themselves either being expelled from their country, pushed into labour camps, or made second class citizens. And so forth.

      But now I see that isn’t important. Only the truth of Islam is important, even to the large number of Christian Palestinians.

    • RoHa on October 23, 2019, 10:20 pm

      “The Jewish side is motivated by an ancient dream of returning to its lost homeland…. It’s about a renaissance of Jewish life.”

      And that is so important that it doesn’t matter who else gets harmed in the process.

      • eljay on October 24, 2019, 7:21 am

        || RoHa: “The Jewish side is motivated by an ancient dream of returning to its lost homeland…. It’s about a renaissance of Jewish life.”

        And that is so important that it doesn’t matter who else gets harmed in the process. ||

        Correct. One of the fundamental tenets of Zionism is the “right” of people who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality (a.k.a., “necessary evil”) they would not have others do unto them.

        And, let’s face it, the only people who are harmed by the “ancient dream” of Jewish “return” to and “self-determination” in the “lost* homeland” are those stubborn anti-Semites – the indigenous people of geographic Palestine – who anti-Semitically refuse to give up their homes, lands and/or lives.
        __________________
        (*and/or ancient, historic, eternal, one true)

      • RoHa on October 25, 2019, 3:26 am

        Three little highlights of the renaissance of Jewish life from Kate’s latest collection.

        “Masked men from the settlement of Yitzhar wielding metal rods and stones attacked volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights, … while they were picking olives alongside Palestinian farmers in the West Bank …settlers set fire to the olive groves, causing a blaze that spread rapidly and burned for hours.”

        “Israeli settlers, today [Sunday], assaulted an elderly Palestinian man as he tried to prevent them from stealing olives “

         “dozens of Israeli settlers broke into the Walaja spring where they performed Jewish rituals while the Palestinian landowners were not allowed to reach their lands.”

        You can read more here, if you can stomach it.

        https://mondoweiss.net/2019/10/settlers-visit-josephs-tomb-in-occupied-territory-and-51-palestinians-are-injured/#comment-207920

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