Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One State. Two State. Red State. Blue State.

Michael L.

map judeaAnyone 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.

April writes:
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?


  1. The best approach is the approach that Arabs themselves leverage. Grab what you can, to hell with the rest, watch them burn it to the ground. Saeb Erekat admitted last year that Israelis live on 1.1% of Yesha. The Israelis figure it to be about 1.8%. Even with greater municipal areas, e.g. all the land inhabited or otherwise under strict Israeli control it's no more than 5-6%. Not including Jerusalem. The majority of Israelis in 'east' Jerusalem are Arabs anyway. Provide incentives for more to move there and retain their Israeli citizenship. Break off the aforementioned 5-6%. Call it a day. There is no '2 state' because no one cares what the Arabs do about their situation. Whether what they bang out is a 'state' or not, is without merit. Utterly irrelevant. At that point, they have their 'homeland' and Israel should divorce from them 100%.

  2. Israel can't compel the Palestinian-Arabs to accept something they clearly now realize is against their ultimate goal, which is the destruction of Israel. This, however, does not require Israel to play along with their plan.

    Once the Palestinian-Arabs accept their state, they realize that should* result in their losing any sympathy from the West in carrying out the rest of their plan. They seem to have realized that there is no conceivable path through which they can destroy Israel via the currently envisioned two-state solution, so they're now holding out for one state, while occasionally pretending to play along with 'negotiations' for the consumption of gullible Western audiences who want to believe they haven't wasted all these years for nothing.

    It's time to take "no" for an answer. I wouldn't be opposed to one final offer / round of pretend-'negotiations,' whatever you want to call them, but let them know in no uncertain terms that the next offer / round will be the absolute final one, and Israel will act unilaterally in whatever way it decides is best after that, in the event that it becomes clear an agreement cannot, and will not, be reached.

    "Two States" is the language of Oslo, which is dead. Israel can still act in the ultimate spirit of the accords without being responsible for the Palestinian-Arab refusal to accept an end to the status quo, and as you often point out, their strikingly curious refusal to accept their freedom and end their own 'oppression.'

    Those who insist that Israeli unilateralism is unacceptable, in the face of all evidence that the Palestinian-Arabs have no plans to ever accept an agreement which would end the status quo, are in effect "One Staters" themselves who are being played for fools by those whose goal is to achieve the end of Israel.

    Consider me an "Israel-plus-whatever-the-hell-the-Palestinian-Arabs-do-with-what-they're-left-with" supporter.

    I don't care if they build a state of their own. If they do, and choose to live in peace next to Israel, fantastic. I'm betting they'll find their new neighbor a willing friend ready to help them succeed. If not, fuck them. Just leave Israel the hell alone, or face the consequences.

    (*let's hope, but who knows anymore)

  3. I am slowly getting the impression that Jewish people - here, there, and elsewhere - have basically had it with these never-ending peace processes.

    Jay is willing to give the wheel a spin one more time - as are G-d only knows how many Jewish Israelis - but, as Jay acknowledges, there must come a point where we come to understand that No Means No.

    {Period. End of story.}

    But this is not the fault of the Jewish people and it is not the fault of the Jewish State.

    The Arabs have refused a state for themselves on Jewish land since the Peel Commission of 1937.

    As far as I am concerned, that's it. We're done.

    How many more decades are we going to allow these people to hold a sword above the necks of the children of Holocaust survivors?

    I think that it is long past time that we change the tone of this conversation and start asserting Jewish rights grounded in Jewish history under thirteen centuries of Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

    1. I understand why you've reached some of your conclusions.
      I'm not sure I could agree with some of what you suggest.
      Apart from anything else, what do you think the International community's response would be to 'annexation'? ( I know the International community is awful - but they still matter.) It is very likely that diplomatic ties would be cut off entirely. From Europe. And also, maybe, from America. What then?
      It's bad enough as it is. For Israelis, and for Jews in the diaspora. There would be potentially dire consequences, I think.

    2. Oh no! The sky is falling (for you).
      I think that Mike already mentioned that the international community, the one that the Jews must always bow to, would not be too happy, but they'd get over it. Do you really think that businesses around the world would just pull out of Israel against their own best interests? I'm not so sure.
      Of course, if Israel did decide to declare its borders and throw away the keys, any number of things could happen. I happen to think that they should have declared those borders based on their own security needs four decades ago.
      The Arabs were then, and are now, not serious about two states. The land is Jewish land and they're lucky they've been indulged this long. Many other countries/peoples would have told them to take a hike and backed it up with tanks.

    3. Understand that you are talking about what Israel' s options are. And what decisions Israel's government could or should make.

      Depends what is meant by "they would get over it."

      I don't know that that is the case. That would make me concerned about how the rest of the world would behave towards Israel. And, to Israelis themselves. Many people of prominence, and institutions, are already engaged in boycotting Israelis of all kinds. Academics, artists, writers - even medics. Israeli visitors are frequently made to feel very unwelcome in Europe.
      The growing hostility towards Israel also means ( much as it should not) that there is a growing hostility towards Jews.
      The cultural demonization goes on.
      1.4 million people would be left to find out just how much everyone gets over it.
      That is not a matter of no importance, I believe.

    4. What needs to be pounded into the heads of the rest of the world is that the Palestinian-Arabs have already been offered by Israel the best deal they can possibly ever hope to get, and they have rejected it. And they show no signs of changing their mind.

      The situation the Palestinian-Arabs find themselves in is their fault.

      The wars of the Arab-Israeli conflict were all won by Israel. Israel made the mistake (repeatedly) of not dictating terms with strength, but that still does not mean that the losers get to dictate terms just because time has passed. Israel is not obligated to dissolve itself into a binational state with an Arab majority which would, at first opportunity, commence to ethnic cleansing of the Jews at 'best,' and genocide at worst.

      I think Israel's main failure today is in arguing this case to the world.

    5. Edit -

      "Israel's failure today is in NOT arguing this case to the world."

    6. Yes, I agree with what you say.
      I don't know whether Israel could have worked harder to make that case heard.
      It's possible. Maybe.
      But, going from now: It seems to me that over many years now all sorts of different factors have come into place.
      Cultural. Political. Academic and ideological theories that have filtered their way down into and through our societies. Demographic changes. And hangovers from previous parts of European history.
      A confusion about what Europe should and shouldn't be.
      Some factors are part of Europe's collective psychological baggage.
      All these have meshed.

      Even if there was a unprecedented brilliant campaign to explain the reality of the situation and its history. Even if that were done in a totally clear rational and factual way, I think no one would be listening. We are at a point where no one wants to listen. They have decided what to think. And what to believe. They are , metaphorically, sticking their fingers in their ears, and saying la-la-la. They are on a bandwagon. I believe it's unstoppable.

      It's become emotional , not rational

      I don't think there is anything you can do about it. Not in Europe.

      In America...? I don't know...possibly.

  4. Are you getting that exit polling saying it looks like Netanyahu has held on?

    1. That's what I'm seeing, too. Exit polling indicates 27 or 28 seats each for Likud and Zionist Union, which would mean there is no possibility for Herzog to form a government.

  5. If that turns out to be right, then that's kind of interesting . To say the least.

    Jeffrey Goldberg on twitter:

    "Trying very hard to imagine US - Israel relations over the next 22 months."

    Yes, there is that.

    1. Looks like we'll still be having these discussions for two or three more years. Which doesn't necessarily strike me as either a definite good thing or a definite bad thing, as frustrating as it may ultimately be.

      I'll keep holding out hope that I'll wake up one morning and learn that Israel has finally cut itself loose from this mess, somehow, for good.

  6. I hear squishy popping sounds. I'm thinking Kossack heads exploding.

  7. Herzog and Netanyahu are tied @27. The Joint Arab list came in third which sounds remarkable but it's not since they already announced they're splitting apart. Everyone else is scraps. But even if they decide to pitch over and award Herzog, leftist governments in Israel has a common history - like Obama, they can win election but they can't govern. They're short lived.

    To me the best outcome is Obama in the White House kicking his dogs in frustration. Second best is watching Chris Matthews have coronary on air tonight.

    1. I haven't watched Matthews, but I did get a glimpse of Peter Beinart on CNN. He played the race card (of course!). When I listen to him it always gets me imagining what Bugs Bunny would sound like if he wasn't funny.

  8. Israelis appear to have spoken, but it will not be respected.

    It is not about Israel for those that single it out. The battle has started to define them as antisemites.

    So many secular Jews fail to understand they also have a target on their backs.

    Netanyahu should not have played identity politics, but perhaps that is too much to ask anymore in this new age of politics, courtesy of the progressives that have made it the main criterion through which to see all social interaction.

  9. I'm a secular Jew, who is comfortable either in Reform or Orthodox synagogues, with good knowledge of Jewish history and more specifically history of modern Zionism, having personal knowledge and keeping contact with Jewish Israelis across the political spectrum. (Even knowing someone who was towards the end of a long Hadash list in the prior elections - he was an activist, but he clearly wasn't going to be in the Knesset by any stretch of imagination.)

    I've been consciously watching the Oslo stage of the "peace process" since mid-90's. (When I started watching politics in general as I grew up.) In mid-00's, I had thought that, perhaps, Abbas was different and would agree to a 2-state solution and give up the right of return, because it's clearly a non-deal for Israeli Jews. And that somehow, maybe?, the volatility of the situation would be contained, and a semblance of peace would take place.

    Soon enough I was disabused of those notions. Lebanon, Gaza 1, Gaza 2, and most recently Gaza 3, and Abbas's repeated declarations that he can't negotiate away the right of return - recently even to the point that the Palestinians of Syria will have to live in awful and uncertain conditions among the Lebanese, many of whom clearly despise them on two levels - as a factor in the Lebanese civil war and as refugees from Syria flooding Lebanon. (Is this how a normal leader would behave?)

    No matter what the West's policies towards Israel, these remain the currently arising factors:
    1. Increasingly troublesome situation for Jewish communities and individuals in Europe in terms of continuously rising Muslim antisemitism.
    2. The situation in Europe as concerns the rising Muslim population and the resurgent extreme Right.
    3. The economic factor feeding the two points above probably won't be resolved any time soon.
    1a, 2a, 3a. All factors leading to Jews increasingly questioning their place in Europe and many of them "looking towards Zion," and going in that direction.
    4. The deteriorating situation in the rest of the region whether due to Iran, ISIS or local branches of Muslim Brotherhood.
    4a. Jordan's similarity to the rest of the Arab world in terms of factors that have led to the recent instability (though, perhaps, at lesser levels) and the additional factor of the majority Palestinian population under a monarch.
    5. Rising Jewish population in the West Bank/Judea & Samaria. And, reportedly rising Jewish fertility rates among all groups of Jewish population.
    6. Shortage of housing in Israel and the problematics of building in the zone, which should be kept for agriculture.

    1. BTW, I still am hoping for a 2-state solution, but were I an Israeli citizen I would have likely voted for Bibi (or maybe Yesh Atid...). But not because I don't believe in a more left-friendly economy, I do. If Israel was at peace and everything were peachy, I'd likely vote for Hamachane hatzioni. My point is that I would vote for Bibi only because I know whatever his minuses, he is a masterful politician with enough stamina and brains to withstand hard pressure from outside. But I am also fine with him negotiating (even now), because I really-really-really doubt that Abbas would agree to a Jewish state (aka no right of return). It's just that now Israel and Israel supporters need to be stressing this point wherever we can - because it is a real, legitimate, and true argument.

      So, Israel's problems that any government will need to deal with in the next decade:

      1. Security (as usual).
      2. Housing and economic opportunity/security.
      3. Increasing and improving absorption of immigrants. (Yes, having talked and read of the way Russians were absorbed in the 90's, Israel definitely needs to improve that on all levels - including erasing the silly "we were here first" syndrome. BTW, at least the North of Israel is already lacking spots in its ulpanim; per a recent Russian immigrant's FB page.)

      So, considering all of these factors that I've outlined (sorry for the ton of writing), I would say Israel should keep negotiating and keep spreading the message of Abbas not moving on the Jewish state/right of return issue at least for the next 2 years. If something happens that would cause an immediate and significant jump in aliyah, outline to the world community a plan under which Abbas is offered a final round of negotiations where a sine qua non is the cessation of all claims (including right of return), complete demilitarization of potential Palestine and permanent stationing of Israeli troops along the Jordan. The declared alternative should be annexation of the West Bank (not Gaza), residency for the Palestinians already living in the West Bank with a right to apply for citizenship (similar to Jerusalem situation).

    2. If, however, there is no significant movement of European Jews (I'm talking similar to 1 million Russian Jews) to Israel, I would say keep negotiating at a slower pace. Earnestly, but prepared that Abbas or whoever is the next Palestinian leader will not agree to Israel's requirements.

    3. Welcome, Victor. Good comments.

      I think the main problem with Israel remaining in an open-ended negotiating stance, if even only for appearances' sake, is that it would inevitably lead to more pressure on Israel to make yet more concessions (prisoner releases, etc), which are never returned in kind by the Palestinian-Arab leadership, and generally don't even get Israel credit for negotiating in good faith once such actions / steps begin to fade into memory in the wake of another flood of Palestinian-Arab "No"s.

      We've surely seen this play out many times before.

      I think we will see a significant increase in European Jewish aliyah, but nowhere near the post-Soviet numbers.

      If current trends / issues continue, perhaps a few hundred thousand over the next decade or so might be a realistic possibility? I suppose there's also the matter that many who haven't left Europe yet might instead prefer the US, Canada or Australia.

    4. Thank you.
      Before I go to sleep...

      I agree with your point. We have seen it before. I'm just not sure whether the situation is dire enough for the Europeans and the US to swallow such a daring move. For all we know, Bibi could have a new UNSC protector lined up, but it's not that visible yet. And the EU, if I am not mistaken, is still Israel's main trade partner.

      I don't know about immigration to Canada or Australia, but immigrating to the US is not that easy from Europe. Generally speaking, they would need to get either a student or a work visa, and unless they have some sort of highly needed specialty or a highly unique one, I doubt this route would work for most. Short of Congress passing some exceptional law, I would expect 20K tops.

    5. Victor,

      welcome to Israel Thrives.

      You are what I would probably call an "educated moderate," although slapping labels on people is rarely helpful... despite however much that I may have it done it, dontcha know.

      You made a list of 6 "currently arising factors" that are relevant to Israel and / or to the conflict.

      One of these factors you describe as follows:

      Rising Jewish population in the West Bank/Judea & Samaria. And, reportedly rising Jewish fertility rates among all groups of Jewish population.

      I certainly agree that this is a factor, but what kind of a factor is it, in your estimation?

    6. Thank you, I like to think of myself as a moderate.

      On its own it's a factor for retention of that area or strategic parts of it. Not in the sense that suddenly this segment of the Israeli population will take over most land (my understanding is that the settlements take up very little of the actual territory, even if the agricultural and other land is counted). However, depending on how long the negotiating process lasts and whether those reaching adulthood stay in the existing settlement blocks, move to expanding areas or take over hilltops in big numbers, it may complicate Israel's decision to pull out (trauma of the Gaza pull-out may be too much if multiplied by an increased number of next generation's hilltops).

      I realized that I also noted the Jordanian issue. The reason I did is because I fear that should Hashemites be overthrown, I doubt the new majority-Palestinian polity will be Israel-friendly, may renounce the peace treaty, and potentially even attack Israel.

      So, should Israelis decide to draw the borders, I would choose to keep all of the West Bank, and make the move either in case of another 1 million aliyah materializing suddenly or rapid changes in Jordan. (Unless, of course, IDF thinks some specific part of the territory is not helpful/hard to defend.)

    7. Just to clear up my confused language - I doubt a Palestinian-controlled Jordan will be Israel-friendly at the current level of "friendship," I fear it may renounce the peace treaty and may even go to war or at the very least help Palestinian terrorists of various stripes, whether Israel keeps West Bank or not.