One State Will Never Fit All

One State Will Never Fit All March 12, 2012

While I was attending a youth conclave for the Society of Humanistic Jews in Washington, there was another gathering at Harvard making headlines.  At our conclave a young woman asked me what I thought about the One-State Conference hosted by Harvard’s Kennedy School.  The answer is not much.

The idea of a one-state solution supported by real antisemites and deluded utopian left-wingers is one of the most unrealistic non-solutions ever proposed to any conflict.  Such a “solution” would result in nothing but more – and worse – conflict and bloodshed.

Now as a humanist I put my faith in the ability of human beings to solve problems, but I base this faith on the potential of actual human beings.  Idealistic leftists, on the other hand, have a starry-eyed, completely unrealistic notion of anything resembling actual Homo sapiens.  Unsurprisingly, many of them come from the religious left.  Their misplaced idealism has led them to support the elimination of the Jewish state in favor of a new multi-national hybrid.  Are they completely clueless about human history?  This is a thoroughly unworkable non-solution.  Just ask anyone from Serbia, Croatia, Lebanon or Iraq.

Of course the masterminds behind this plan know exactly what it is they’re proposing.  It is nothing less than the elimination of Israel and the creation of a 23rd Arab nation-state.  But they don’t say that too loudly to their leftist utopian friends.  They frame it in terms of justice and righteousness.  They praise these values to “solve” the Israeli-Arab conflict, completely ignoring the human rights records of the 22 existing Arab nations (not to mention Iran).  Only a complete sucker would fall for this.  Apparently there are a few in the Kennedy School.

As usual, Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for Bloomberg, hits the nail on the head:

The “shared state” model, of course, barely works in Belgium. In the heart of the merciless Middle East, where the oppression of ethnic and religious minorities by the Muslim Arab majority is in many countries severe and ongoing, it would be a formula for endless war.

Even one of the intellectual fathers of one-statism, the academic Edward Said, acknowledged that Jews could be endangered in this theoretical country. Asked by the Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit in 2000 if he thought a Jewish minority would be treated fairly, he said: “It worries me a great deal. The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very difficult for me. I really don’t know.”

Israelis know. There is near wall-to-wall agreement among Israelis, and their supporters, that the Belgian model would quickly deteriorate into the Lebanese model.

Some of the most persuasive arguments against one-statism, in fact, come from the left. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, told me that the one-state solution is a “one-state nightmare.” Gershom Gorenberg, in his new book, “The Unmaking of Israel,” a jeremiad directed at the Jewish settlement movement, writes at length about the absurdity at the heart of the proposal.

Palestinians will demand the return of property lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame.

Gorenberg predicts that Israelis of means would flee this new state, leaving it economically crippled. “Financing development in majority-Palestinian areas and bringing Palestinians into Israel’s social welfare network would require Jews to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services. But the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry. Both individuals and companies will leave.”

In the best case, this new dystopia by the sea would be paralyzed by endless argument: “Two nationalities who have desperately sought a political frame for cultural and social independence would wrestle over control of language, art, street names, and schools.” In the worst case, Gorenberg writes, political tensions “would ignite as violence.”

I’m not involved with J-Street, but I give them credit for rejecting this.  Transforming the existing conflict into a domestic hell on earth will not help anyone.  It will be a recipe for Yugoslavian-style civil war.

The antisemites who call for this already know that.  It’s exactly what they’re hoping for.

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