Zionists saw more clearly than anyone else the catastrophe facing the Jews of Europe and the need for a refuge. Their campaign to transform all or most of Palestine into a Jewish state succeeded in 1948. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict arose from that success and from two refusals. The first, when Israel refused to allow three-quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs to return to their homes, created the Palestinian refugee problem and ensured deep and continued challenges to Palestine’s peace and security. The second refusal stretched over decades following the Six-Day War of 1967. In this period, Israel prevented a Palestinian state or entity of any kind from being established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Thus was destroyed the one option for a negotiated compromise capable of ending not only the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, but also the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. This second decades-long refusal and its consequences are the focus of this book.
The Cost of Holocaustia
As Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, General Benny Gantz told dozens of ultraorthodox soldiers that “In Auschwitz they did not differentiate between us; we all went to the crematoria regardless of who wore a kippah and who did not wear a kippah, and they did not distinguish between those with beards and those without beards.” Two years later the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin addressed the six million Jewish dead. “Today, seventy years after the liberation of the death camps, we stand before you and we swear an oath…each and every one of us has a number tattooed on his arm.” Prime Minister Netanyahu regularly portrays the country as threatened by another Holocaust. “It’s 1938 and Iran is Nazi Germany.”
These depictions reflect a culture of Holocaustia which tells Israeli Jews what it means to be a Jew. Remembering the Holocaust as a template for Jewish life helped paralyze Israeli responses to the Palestinians and is crucial to understanding Israel’s failure to embrace negotiated routes to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Lobby and the Cocoon
Nothing that the United States does about Israel is likely to endanger the integrity or future of the United States. By contrast, the implications for Israel of U.S. policy toward Israel have been immense. The cocoon spun around Israeli democracy by Washington’s uncritical largesse and protection helped make it impossible for Israelis to appreciate how negatively their governments’ policies would impact prospects for the Jewish state’s future.
In this way the Israel lobby’s hammerlock on American foreign policy toward Israel systematically destroyed the credibility and careers of moderate Israeli politicians while encouraging the ascendance of right-wing maximalism.
Dead Solution Walking
A negotiated two-state solution has failed as a policy option to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But its failure is more profound than that. The two-state solution has also failed as a paradigm—an array of concepts, assumptions, agendas, questions, commitments, and beliefs associated with a partitionist approach to the “problem of Palestine.” Understanding the rise of the two-state solution and the implications of its failure is crucial for developing more effective ways to think about the conflict and appreciating otherwise obscured paths toward a less violent and more equitable future.
The One-State Reality and Its Future
For a few decades, the two-state solution combined a pretty picture of the future with a plausible way to get there–negotiations to divide the country roughly along the pre-June 1967 borders. The picture remains, but the way to get there is gone. A negotiated two-state solution has become every bit the fantasy of an unattainable future that its advocates believe the “one-state solution” to be.
Though there is no “solution” in sight, there is a reality. There is today one state, the State of Israel, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is an apparatus of power, recognized by the international community, whose policies and actions decisively affect the lives of everyone in the area. Effective thinking about how today’s problems can be traded for better ones in the future means focusing on the transformative dynamics of this one-state reality and the decisiveness of the unintended consequences of de facto annexation.
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