One of the more misunderstood dynamics of Israeli politics is the Jewish electorate’s move to the right. The increasing popularity of center-right parties in recent elections – and the increasing marginalization of left-wing parties – is typically characterized (at least in its national security policy context) by many in the media in a manner using “right-wing” in a pejorative manner: meaning less flexible, more hawkish, less open to peace, etc.
In fact, the degree to which Israelis have moved right on the issues of peace and security can be attributed to the failure of Oslo ‘peace process’ – and the broader failure of the ‘land for peace’ strategy, per such unilateral Israeli moves as their withdrawal from S. Lebanon in 2000, and the Gaza disengagement in 2005.
While a strong majority Israelis still support, in principle, a two-state solution, and a large majority support the evacuation of a substantial portion of the settlements in return for a peace agreement and the end of the conflict, the most important Israeli consensus is almost never reported: A large majority of Israelis assume that the two-state solution will NOT actually resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.
So, it’s not that most Israelis don’t passionately support peace. Rather, most, based on experience, believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually make their lives less secure.
As Yoram Ettinger argued:
“The Palestinian Authority’s track record in the 19 years since Oslo has been heavy on hate-education, incitement, terrorism, non-compliance, corruption, repression of fellow Palestinians, support of arch terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, support of anti-U.S. terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and friendships with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other enemies and rivals of the U.S. and Western democracies.
The seismic “Arab Street” has exposed the endemic vulnerabilities of “peace treaties” in the Middle East, highlighting the Arab Middle East as the role model of intra-Arab violence, treachery, unpredictably, instability, fragmentation, non-compliance and violation of human liberties.”
The prospect that the new state of Palestine will become another Gaza-style launching pad for terrorists – with extremists able to operate freely upon IDF withdrawal – is a very real fear, one which much of the left typically ignores.
Further, few Israelis are under the illusion that most Palestinians are prepared to accept peace with a Jewish state within any borders – fears that are very well founded.
In addition to the fact that Palestinian leaders have rejected two offers of statehood since 2000 (Barak’s in 2000-01fig and Olmert’s in 2008) , we’ve noted one especially depressing poll demonstrating that only 23% of Palestinians believe in Israel’s right to exist as the national homeland of the Jews.
Additionally, ignored by most of the mainstream media, the same poll indicates that over 60% of Palestinians express support for the two-state solution (Israel and Palestine) but eventually hope that one state − Palestine − will prevail.
As I’ve argued previously, the bi-national idea is not only a dead letter for the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews – but represents a political solution which would be militarily resisted if any party tried to impose it.
David Wearing, one state and two states:
You’d could almost believe that David Wearing’s latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece, ‘A two-state solution is the most practical solution‘, Nov. 2, represented a rare expression of support for the two-state solution at the Guardian – where the one-state delusion finds the most fertile ground – but you’d be wrong.
In fact, a hint that the headline is not a quiet accurate reflection of Wearing’s intentions can be found in the strap line of the piece.
“Those calling for a single bi-national state are in the ascendancy but this would entail the end of Israel, which is not realistic.“
Note that the end of the Jewish state is characterized not as anything especially undesirable, or immoral, but as simply an idea lacking in practicality…for the moment.
“The case for a single, bi-national state is now reasonably familiar. Israel’s illegal settlements are so entrenched that uprooting them to make way for a viable Palestinian state has become impossible. We should therefore call instead for a single, democratic state in the whole of the former British Mandate for Palestine.
But the logic is incomplete. Declaring the two-state solution unrealistic does not, by itself, make self-evident the greater feasibility of one bi-national state. The latter would entail the end of Israel, and of Zionism, as we understand those terms today. Is this really a more likely scenario than the colonial infrastructure in the occupied territories being dismantled?
Recent polls showing alarming levels of racism in Israeli public opinion, reflected in the new hard-right alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, suggest a polity that is not currently minded to dissolve itself under any amount of political pressure.” [emphasis added]
Israeli Jews, per Wearing, are not only racist, but quite stubborn to boot – as they are not currently inclined to entertain the notion of their state’s demise.
“...the most practical route to a bi-national state may lie in securing a modicum of justice and peace as soon as possible through a two-state settlement, thus establishing the conditions most likely to lead, through dialogue and consensus-building over the longer term, to a more enduring bi-national state.”
David Wearing is convinced in Palestinian ‘staying power‘, confident in their ability to eventually overcome the Jewish state’s existence.
In the meantime, Wearing is willing to wait Zionism out.
Anyone who follows this blog shouldn’t be surprised that the Guardian continues to morally sanction voices advocating for the end of the Jewish state, as the London-based paper has been in the forefront in legitimizing, not merely Zionism’s end, but, often, the most radical, reactionary, violent (often Islamist) voices within the region.
However, the ubiquity of such anti-Zionism at the Guardian shouldn’t blind those (on the left or right) who genuinely support a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to the danger such political extremism poses.
If Israelis like myself are to take the profound risks necessary for peace, and support the two-state paradigm, then we must have faith that any deal with the Palestinians will truly bring security and mean the final end of the six decade assault against our existence.
Those advocating for a bi-national state – whether immediately or over time – necessarily are working to, in effect, irreparably erode our confidence in the efficacy of territorial concessions and other painful compromises which we are continually asked to make.
As long as Palestinians, and their supporters, can not inspire confidence that a deal with the PA will achieve a final and lasting peace, and will result an end to all historical grievances, then Israelis will continue to soberly view demands they disengage from land across the 1949 armistice lines as mere cynical ploys in a continuation of the sixty-four year Arab war against Israel, albeit by other means.