(May 3, 2019 / JNS) I know you students and students-to-be are aware that American university and college campuses are more and more evolving into battlefields—and not only of ideas that challenge this current generation of Jewish students.
The Jewish establishment is inadequately supportive, and some lend their hand to subvert a vibrant Zionist attitude. The Arabs and allies are violent, strident and sometimes over-intimidating. Psychologically, who wants to constantly feel pressured? And I’m sure a good few of you will admit that your Jewish education, as well as and knowledge of Israel and Zionism, is woefully insufficient.
One central challenge is the entrenched idea that there is only one solution Israel must accept, and that you as even minimal supporters of Israel need to champion: the “two-state solution.”
It’s in the news again. According to an unnamed White House official, as reported in the JTA news service on April 22, “There is no point in using a phrase [the ‘two-state solution’] that never achieved peace. Our plan provides a clear, realistic and detailed vision of what peace could actually look like.” The next day, another report indicated that one of the two main “deal of the century” Middle East peace plan authored by the Trump administration, senior adviser Jared Kushner, was quoted expressing doubt as to a two-state solution viability.
Kushner, speaking at a Time magazine event, noted that, again according to the JTA, past negotiations over a two-state solution have “failed. … New and different ways to reach peace must be tried.” Time magazine White House correspondent Brian Bennett asked him whether his plan would culminate in “two states,” and Kushner replied: “If people focus on the old traditional talking points, we’re never going to make progress.”
You, however, should have the courage to ask a very basic question: What problem does a two-state solution solve?
The “two-state solution” has a long history.
We’ll recall that after the 1967 war lasting six days, in which Israel overcame Arab aggression when multiple states launched hostilities, including blatant violations of U.N. decisions, as well as calls from the United States and other countries to refrain from attacks on Israel, the diplomatic theme of “territories for peace” became the bon mot. As there had been no “State of Palestine” at that time (and, in fact, never in history) and if you review the text of that famous U.N. 242 Resolution, it doesn’t appear even there, a solution of “two states” would only appear later.
Indeed, the Arabs who are called Palestinians had consistently refused to recognize Israel and so automatically negated a “two-state solution.” Their chief terror group, the Palestine Liberation Organization, founded in 1964, three years prior to the putative Israeli “occupation,” sought the elimination of Israel. Its Charter, Article 15, was quite blunt: “The liberation of Palestine … a national duty and it … aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.”
This has always been the constant factor. Back on Feb. 18, 1947, the British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin summed up the Arab conflict with Zionism, saying, “For the Jews, the essential point of principle is the creation of a sovereign Jewish State. For the Arabs, the essential point of principle is to resist to the last the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine.” It wasn’t so much that the Arabs wanted a state as they sought to prevent the Jews from establishing one.
It was only in November 1988 that the PLO sought to promote the idea that it had recognized Israel, and would be willing to settle for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Even the Oslo Accords did not explicitly make provisions for a Palestinian state. For sure, the concept of “two states” was diplomatic assumption and, for example, in a New York Review of Books interview in 1975, Abba Eban had referred to it and not for the first time. This, even though for Eban, the 1949 armistice lines (not borders) recalled Auschwitz for him.
Actually, the “two-state solution” has a long history.
Arriving in Jerusalem at the end of March 1921 from Cairo, then Colonial Affairs Minister Winston Churchill introduced that solution. He informed those gathered at the follow-up session to the earlier Cairo Conference that despite assumptions and deliberations already advance as a result of the January 1919 Versailles Peace Conference, the Zionists were not to achieve their territorial aspirations, and a new country was to be birthed, Transjordan. There it was: an Arab Palestine east of the Jordan River and a Jewish national homeland west of it.
That was rejected by the Arabs. They altered their initial demand that the Palestine Mandate created by a decision of the League of Nations be dissolved and the territory united with Syrian as Palestine was nothing if not Southern Syria and they were Southern Syrians, not “Palestinians.” From 1920 on, various Palestine Arab Congresses “condemned the notion of a homeland for the Jewish people.” Their political terror began in Jerusalem during Passover 1920, continued in May and November 1921, and reached horrific results in August 1929.
Another wave during 1936-37 led the British to propose a partition of the territory west of the Jordan; in essence, a “two-state solution.” That, too, was rejected, as was the Nov. 29, 1947 U.N. Partition Plan. The thousands of Jews who had lived in Hebron, Gaza, Shechem/Nablus, Jerusalem’s Old City, Gush Etzion and other locations now labeled as the “West Bank,” a term created only in April 1950 by Jordan’s King Abdullah I, were ethnically cleansed from their homes.
Now, 72 years later, diplomats and negotiators are still dredging up an idea that not only has been tried and found wanting, and not only has been consistently rejected but is irrelevant to the political, economic and security reality—and will not work.
Why it won’t work, and why you should say so
This is what you should be telling your friends, and also those you seek to quash your freedom of thought and expression.
It will not work because since Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 speech accepting a “two-state solution” in principle, the Arab side has avoided saying or doing anything that might indicate a willingness to even negotiate seriously the matter. Even a nine-month moratorium on construction of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria by Netanyahu wasn’t enough of a come-on. Even former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s largesse a year earlier hadn’t convinced them.
It will not work because the Arabs have not nor will they recognize, formally, the basic idea of a Jewish national identity. Jews, they promote, are but a religious group, not a people with a shared history and national territory. I have no rights to reside in Shiloh where the Tabernacle was erected, where Chana prayed, where Samuel prophesized, even though archaeological excavations have scientifically proven the biblical account. Zionism continues to be anathema.
It will not work because a resolution of the population defined as “Palestine refugees” must, the Arabs demand, include a portion returning to where they came from in Israel, which is a demand Israel cannot accept.
It will not work because of Israel’s security needs and requirements. Those must recognize the advancement and improvement of weaponry the Arabs possess, including incendiary kites and balloon bombs as well as smuggled in Iranian rockets. The topography, in which the hills of Samaria and Judea dominate Israel’s center, negates any yielding of control.
It will not work because of the experience of the 2005 Gaza Disengagement. The expulsion of more than 8,000 Jews and the dismantlement of 17 communities, as well as the disinterment of Jewish bodies from cemeteries, did not satisfy the Arabs of Gaza. Renewed violence was the response to that peace offer.
It will not work because Arabs seek an apartheid state. Jews will be forced to leave regions of their ancient, as well as modern, homeland. A peace that establishes two Arab states in historic Palestine—“Palestine” and Jordan—is not the “two-state solution” acceptable to Israel.
It will not work because a “two-state solution” does not solve the real problems of the conflict the Arabs have with Israel and Zionism.
Once that paradigm is accepted, only then can we begin to plan and initiate constructive ideas that will allow for the two populations of the area to achieve peace among themselves.
There could be an attempt to try an incremental process of stages so that proper supervision could be done to make sure that the proposed state of Palestine is developing in terms of democracy and peace, and acceptance of the other. Maybe a federation with Jordan. Perhaps a period of autonomy. There are other ways to achieve peace.
There are other issues, of course. If you’re unsure about the Jews and the Land of Israel, read The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel (it’s only 154 pages long).
Your relatives, friends and fellow students still think Israel has an Arab “demographic threat”? Then see this.
In the end, we have a shared fate. We need each other. Don’t submit to the pressures. Read and learn. Visit Israel and experience history. Seek news that is true and fact-based.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and commentator.