Anyone who has followed my scribblings over the last few years knows that I have slowly gone from a two-state advocate to flirting with the single-state idea. I gave up on the possibility of a negotiated two-state agreement when it became obvious to me that the Palestinian-Arabs had no intention whatsoever of ever coming to a reasonable conclusion of hostilities.
This has led me to the only possible conclusion, which is that Israel must unilaterally declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders. What those borders should be, I leave entirely to the Israelis. Should Israel annex the historical homeland of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria?
In truth, I go back and forth on the matter, but have been leaning more and more toward the affirmative.
In the comments of my latest Sunday column for the Elder of Ziyon entitled, The Expiration Date on "Palestine", J_April argued against the single-state solution.
A one-state solution that conserves Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is not possible. Annexing Judea and Samaria without granting citizenship to the Arabs currently living there is not realistic. Israel is a small country which will never able to achieve economic autarky and will therefore always remain dependent of a reasonable degree of friendliness in relation with other strong (and larger) economies. Any unilateral move to annex Judea and Samaria (or even parts thereof) without making its Arabs citizens with equal status to all other Israeli citizens would jeopardize these relationships and therefore Israel's wealth and ultimately its existence.I agree with parts of this and disagree with other parts.
I certainly agree that when, or if, Israel annexes Judea and Samaria much of the international community will not be happy... if I may understate a tad.
I disagree, however, that a single-state must necessarily mean the demise of Israel as either Jewish or democratic.
The reason for this is because there is no requirement that a democracy must incorporate hostile foreign elements into it, in order to remain a democracy. What I propose, under the circumstances of initiating a single state, is that those non-Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria who wish to gain the franchise would need to demonstrate good will toward their Jewish neighbors through the completion of two years community service of some kind.
Those who receive a good report would be given the full franchise.
As for those Arabs who remain resident non-citizens, their children should be given every opportunity to join as full citizens of the state. Since education would no longer be in the hands of hostile terrorist organizations, Israel could educate Arab youth to the benefits of joining with the country and clearly demonstrate those benefits as young people see their older siblings getting good university educations and well-paying jobs.
By limiting the franchise to only those Arabs who actually want to live peacefully within the Jewish state, Israel would remain both majority Jewish and democratic. In fact, it would remain more democratic than the United States because the US, for far less good reason, does not allow Puerto Ricans to vote in national elections, despite the fact that Puerto Rico is incorporated into the United States. Americans withhold the national franchise from Puerto Ricans despite the fact that Puerto Ricans do not teach their children that killing Anglo-Americans is beloved in the sight of Allah.
Long story short: A two-state solution is still the only possible solution, but it's a solution that is impossible to achieve under the current circumstances. And changing these circumstances is not under the influence of any Israeli government, not matter what persons or parties it is made of. Which means, that effectively and at this moment, there is no solution.April, here, has put herself into the untenable position of arguing that the only possible solution is currently impossible and that there is nothing that we can do about it.
I certainly appreciate the dilemma, but since a negotiated conclusion of hostilities is, in fact, impossible - because this is not the Palestinian-Arab national objective - that leaves only the option of unilateral action.
Israel should, thus, declare its final borders, remove the IDF to behind those borders, and toss the keys over its shoulder. Good-bye and Good luck.
If that means full annexation of Judea and Samaria, well, I leave that decision to the Israeli people, but full annexation need not mean the demise of Israel as a Jewish or a democratic state. Such an assumption has become a matter of political faith, at this point, and is therefore very much in need of questioning and examination. Once you start hearing people say, on any topic, that "everyone knows that the only solution is..." whatever, then you know that it is time to start pondering previously unacceptable imponderables.
Furthermore, I would argue, we need to stop being so fearful of international opinion.
They already lambaste Israelis as a The New Nazis, yet Israel has never had such close economic, scientific, or diplomatic relations as it enjoys today throughout the world. Despite the fact that so many people were raised with an irrational contempt for the Jewish people, we remain among the most dynamic, creative, and empathetic people on the face of the Earth.
If, however, Israel were to annex Judea and Samaria, much of the world would scream bloody murder, but they would get over it. And if they do not get over it, they do not have to buy a Soda Stream or a cell phone.
In any event, Israel will never be loved no matter how many cures for cancer Israelis come up with, but it can be respected.
And respect comes through strength grounded in honesty.
The land surrounding Jerusalem is Jewish land, after all. For something like 4,000 years - long, long before anyone ever heard of any such places as London or Paris or Washington D.C. - the Jewish people were roaming those hills, building communities, and endlessly kvetching at one another... to everyone's great annoyance.
Why should all that change, now, merely because some people from the Arabian peninsula don't like it?