Minister Naftali Bennett’s remarks, rejecting outright the vision of two states
for two peoples, are stunningly shortsighted
– David Harris, American Jewish
Committee executive director, June 17, 2013
Since we cannot defeat Israel in
war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of
Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to
take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the
final blow against Israel
– Yasser Arafat, Jordanian TV, September 13, 1993 (the
day he signed the Oslo Accords on the White House Lawn)
The idea of a two-state
solution should be dead, today, because unfortunately a Palestinian state in
Judea and Samaria would bring about Israel’s demise
– Yuval Steinitz, The
Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2008
It is becoming increasingly difficult to
respond with any degree of courteous civility to the advocates of the socalled
“two-state-solution” (TSS). Maintaining the shabby pretense is simply proving
too perilous. The time has come to dispense with the false façade of social
decorum and to call a spade, a spade, to deem the moronic, “moronic” and the
Dangerous, delusional dogma
This applies equally to
longstanding supporters of this dangerous delusion, who resolutely refuse to
acknowledge error – despite the manifest misery and mayhem its misguided pursuit
has wrought; and to recent neophytes, who have inexplicably, and inexcusably,
embraced this patently preposterous policy proposal – despite their past
opposition to it being unequivocally vindicated.
Likewise, it applies to
senior Israeli policy-makers, who have shown neither the necessary intellectual
depth nor daring to formulate a cogent counterparadigm, and thus have been
coerced into endorsing this disproven dogma; and to leaders of allegedly
pro-Zionist organizations in the Diaspora – principally the US – who, whether
for reasons of political naiveté, or social nicety, have perversely embraced the
establishment of an illiberal Muslim tyranny as the litmus test of refined
Belief in the inevitable implementation of the TSS-paradigm
as the format for resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict has acquired the
status of a quasi-religious article of faith, whose validity is self-evident,
requiring no proof.
Any expressions of doubt as to its practical
feasibility, or conceptual soundness, can be dismissed as misguided – even
malicious – heresy, no matter how convincing the empirical evidence or
compelling the analytical rationale on which they draw.
person expounding such “heretical doubts” must be belittled, berated and
besmirched, no matter how powerful and persuasive the arguments for his/her case
As evidence continues to accumulate, showing how implausible the
pursuit of Palestinian statehood is almost certain to prove as a measure for
attaining a peaceable resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the
reaction of TSSadherents waxes evermore harsh and
Shortsighted or starry-eyed?
Recently, a typical example of
such reprehensible behavior was provided by David Harris, the executive director
of the influential AJC.
Responding to a remark by Economy and Trade
Minister Naftali Bennett regarding Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to
relaunch negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Harris castigated him for
dubbing endeavors to establish a Palestinian state as futile and having reached
Harris bristled at Bennett’s outright rejection of “the
vision of two states for two peoples,” warning that it was “stunningly
shortsighted” and “offers only the prospect of a dead-end strategy of endless
conflict and growing isolation for Israel.”
Of course, quite the opposite
is true. For over the past two post-Oslo decades, ever since Israel has accepted
the notion of two states for two peoples, the conflict with the Palestinians has
escalated and Israel’s isolation has increased – far beyond levels that existed
when such an idea was considered a perfidious anathema.
would be much closer to the truth to assert that anyone who still clings to the
vision (read “nightmare”) of two states for two peoples is, at best, hopelessly
– and hazardously – starry- eyed.
After all, given the
physical devastation and the political delegitimization the pursuit of the
TSS-“vision” has left in its wake, together with the high probability and
horrendous cost of failure in the future, it would seem that it is its
proponents – rather than its opponents – who are afflicted by shortsightedness,
if not total sightlessness.
Even a cursory glance at the pre- and
post-Oslo facts will expose Harris’s suggestion that the adoption of the TSS-
“vision” will in any way act to reduce either conflict or international
isolation as complete claptrap. With time, we tend to forget the woes this
“noble” vision wrought on the nation.
So a brief reminder is
With regard to the level of conflict, based on data from the
Foreign Ministry, during the 12 years following the Oslo Agreement (1994-2005)
the number of terror-related fatalities was almost six(!) times those incurred
in the 12 years prior to it (1981-1992); and significantly higher than ALL
terror-related fatalities in the 44 years following the War of Independence
until the dawn of the Oslo-era (1949- 1992).
With regard to international
isolation, contrary to prevailing urban legend, one would be hard pressed to
find any state of substantial international standing that set up diplomatic
relations with Israel after the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in September
For example, China, India and Russia, which together comprise
almost 40 percent of humanity, and had long avoided diplomatic ties with Israel,
opened embassies in the country almost two years previously – under the
recalcitrant, rejectionist government of Yitzhak Shamir.
By contrast, a
glance at the Foreign Ministry website will reveal that the vast majority of
nations that established official contacts with Israel in the wake of the Oslo
initiative were hardly of crucial importance to its international stature – with
all due respect to exotic locations such as Andorra, Burkina Faso, Botswana,
Bosnia/Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Croatia, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea,
Macedonia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Montenegro, Namibia, Nauru, Rwanda, San
Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe – which make up the
overwhelming bulk of the post- Oslo additions to countries maintaining
diplomatic relations with Israel.
Woefully myopic or willfully blind?
Conversely – and perversely? – delegitimization of Israel appears to have
intensified in the post-Oslo period.
For example, the infamous “Durban”
series of conferences took place after Israel had adopted a TSS-compliant
The 2001-Durban conference (Durban I) was held only a few months
after Ehud Barak’s far-reaching peace offer to Arafat, and provided a
high-profile platform for a myriad of anti-Israel NGOs to peddle their noxious
The subsequent “Durban II” (Geneva, 2009) and “Durban III” (New
York, 2011) conferences comprised the “Durban process” which one prominent
authority characterized as follows: “The objective of the Durban process is to
use human rights and international law terminology to isolate, demonize and
delegitimize Israel... this process manifests itself in various ways: the
academic boycott campaigns in the UK; a variety of boycotts in Scandinavian
countries; divestment in churches and in Norway; ‘lawfare’ cases brought against
Israelis in various European countries. All these take their mandate from the
2001 NGO Forum at the Durban Conference and... work toward reinforcing
The egregious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
movement, which is acquiring disturbing momentum of late, is a post-Oslo
initiative, launched in mid-2005, just weeks prior to the unilateral withdrawal
from Gaza, and over a year after the hyperhawk Ariel Sharon declared that “we
are willing to proceed toward its implementation: two states – Israel and a
Palestinian state living side by side in tranquility, security and
How has Harris failed to see how counter-productive TSS-compliant
policies have been? Is it woeful myopia? Or willful blindness?
Harris followed his anti-Bennett tirade with two opinion pieces, urging that we
“Give the Peace Process a Chance,” which were (how should I put this?)
Although I did touch on the more glaring defects
in Harris’s articles in my last column, his approach is so arch-typical of the
asinine argumentation adopted by TSS-advocates that I feel it is essential to
According to Harris, “Israel owe[s] itself the obligation
to leave no stone unturned in seeing if a partner, absent yesterday, might
somehow show up today. And if, miracle of miracles, the Palestinian leadership
actually turns out to be a credible partner this time, then, of course, all the
more reason to try.”
Wrong – and stunningly shortsighted! The supposed
sincerity of the Palestine negotiating partner’s peaceable intentions is
completely – or at least, largely-irrelevant to whether or not negotiations
should be undertaken. What is far more pertinent is his ability – and that of
any prospective successor – to honor them. Or does Harris feel comfortable with
Israel making perilous concessions, if, as in Gaza, they could fall to radical
extremists? Has he any way to ensure they will not? And if he can’t, isn’t he
being wildly shortsighted in urging taking such risks?
Forlorn hope as strategy?
And should the talks fail, Harris would have us believe that “if the
Palestinians once again prove they are unwilling partners, as they did in 2000-1
and again in 2008, let the world see who torpedoed a potential
Really? It is difficult to resist asking: “Myopic and amnesic?”
Has Harris forgotten the wrenching concessions Israel has made over the past
decades – the unrequited unilateral 10-month freeze on construction in the
“settlements”; withdrawal from major populations centers in Judea-Samaria;
unilateral evacuation of Gaza, and erasure of every vestige of Jewish presence
there; the unearthing of its dead from their graves; the demolition of
settlements in northern Samaria; permitting armed militias to deploy adjacent to
its capital, within mortar range of its parliament?
To all these the
Palestinians responded with Judeocidal terror and Judeophobic
Surely, if after all this, the penny still hasn’t dropped,
what possible reason is there for any farsighted person to believe the offer of
further concessions will do the trick? Or is Harris suggesting forlorn hope as a
Negotiating Strategy vs social pandering
According to Harris,
“Israel must never hesitate to show up at any serious negotiating
It is of course questionable whether the current coerced talks,
with an unrepresentative and aging PA president, in office now for almost nine
years of his elected four-year term and whose continued incumbency is far from
certain, comprises a “serious negotiating table.”
However, putting that
thorny issue aside, it is difficult to imagine any worse a negotiating strategy
than declaring almost unconditional willingness to negotiate – especially in the
Nothing could better induce one’s counterparts to harden
their position, escalate their intransigence and make wildly unreasonable
demands, like releasing over 100 convicted killers as a precondition to deign to
participate in talks.
Hardly a formula for success – unless of course
what is really important is social acceptability in bon-ton liberal circles
rather than the actual results of the negotiations.
Surely all but the
shortsighted can grasp this?
Sound political science
I could go on rebutting
nearly every sentence in Harris’s shallow articles, and virtually every
shortsighted idea he raises in them, but constraints of time and space are upon
me, and I must desist.
So let me conclude with the following categorical
declaration: Given the infinitesimal geographical distances from major Israeli
population centers and the topographical dominance over vital Israeli
infrastructure any Palestinian state would have, Harris’s prescription for “the
need for extraordinarily careful attention to security arrangements in any
two-state deal” is little more than lip service, designed to fob off profound
concerns which in reality can never be satisfied.
Indeed, I would challenge him to
produce the outlines of anything remotely approaching a workable – and durable –
formula for such “carefully attended security arrangements.”
I am sure he
will find that none exists.
In the final analysis, between the River and
the Sea there will exist either exclusive Jewish sovereignty or exclusive Arab
sovereignty. The side that will prevail is the side whose national will is the
stronger and whose political vision is the sharper.
This is not
right-wing extremism or religious fanaticism.
It is merely sound
political science – and farsighted prudence.
(www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org)