I found the above map in an old world atlas I have from 1949. The then newly created state of Israel was mentioned in the current events section of the atlas and as one of the countries mentioned in the name of this map. And yet, on the map there is only one state where Israel should be and it is called Palestine (which is also one of the countries mentioned in the map’s name).
In the 60 years since this map was published the default position to end the generational conflict has been a Two-State Solution–somehow dividing the land that the map marks as “Palestine” into Israel and Palestine. The borders for Israel were firmly established in 1949 and have been expanding ever since. OTOH, the borders for Palestine are still in flux and everyday the possible size of a future Palestinian state shrinks and becomes more fragmented by design.
Last week President Obama gave two speeches with a focus on the conflict (here and here). In both, he focused on the need to get to a Two-State Solution. His call to save the notion of a two states living side by side was basically rejected out of hand by Bibi Netanyahu, who has been fighting the concept of a Palestinian state all of his life. Now Netanyahu does make word strings in favor of peace, a Two-State Solution, and other nice sounding things, but his actions have always shown that these are just word salads. Josh Marshall cut through Netanyahu’s endless bullshit with this observation:
Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t want a two state solution. Period. End of story. Whether this is a principle of deeply held belief (probably) or just a desire not to see his coalition government fall (certainly) doesn’t really matter. His clear aim is to perpetuate the status quo indefinitely — something that is simply not compatible with Israel’s security, America’s security or the Palestinians need for a state.
I think it is pretty clear that delaying any negotiations towards a Two-State solution is the policy of Netanyahu’s coalition. That is why he had to pretend that President Obama said something he didn’t say to create a distraction–without the manufactured dust up talks might get underway and that must be avoided.
It was a bit of a spectacle to see Netanyahu speak to Congress this week and to hear the bi-partisan support for inaction. Bibi strung a lot of words together, but most were meaningless–especially if you held out any hope for peace or a future for the state of Israel. Time and time again his calls to protect the status quo and his commitments to block any solutions were met with applause. It was a bit embarrassing to see so many put the political desires of the extreme elements of the Likud Party ahead of the future of Israel and the security of the United States, but so it goes.
It is all magical thinking and that is the rage in wingnutopia. Bibi is a long-time believer in wishful thinking and so he fits right in. He is yet another one of these folks who believes that time, science, reality and everybody else in the world will stand still while their fantasies plays out as imagined. The notion that it might be crazy to think that the entire world revolves around your narrow delusions and petty framing never seems to occur to these folks. This pattern repeats over and over again whether you are talking about increasing the debt ceiling, cutting the budget, jobs, taxes, climate change, Israel, and a host of other issues.
This belief that your fantasy will trump reality reminds me of that final scene in Aguirre: The Wrath of God where Aguirre ignores reality to plot with the monkeys for world conquest. It shows a commitment to a rich and active fantasy life regardless of real consequences and lasting harm. In this Aguirre, Netanyahu and the wingnuts are soulmates.
The Two-State Solution is a policy idea way past its expiration date. It is on life support. The Netanyahu government rejects a Two-State Solution unless pre-conditions that would make a future Palestinian State a group of unconnected and powerless bantustans are guaranteed. The result has been that–for the last decade–Palestinian negotiators have not had partners in Israel. They have given up. Any effort to negotiate with Netanyahu is hopeless because Bibi does not believe in a Two-State solution. So instead the Palestinians have decided to focus inward–and work on resolving internal conflicts between various factions. And of course this feeds the loop and gives Bibi and his allies yet another fresh excuse to delay and kill any possible Two-State Solution. The spiral continues to spin into the ground. And yet, the death of the Two-State Solution is what Congress celebrated when they honored Netenyahu. Go figure.
While I hope that President Obama can somehow save the concepts of two states living side by side from doom, I am pretty doubtful that it can be done. Time is running out out and when the point of no return is crossed, the State of Israel will be on a glide path to extinction–a glide path greased and prepared by Netanyahu and his wingnut minions. As Peter Beinart noted the other day Obama has thrown Netanyahu a lifeline and it has been rejected.
Now I get the sense that Bibi and his pals imagine that the next 60 years will be like the last 60 years. They imagine that running out the clock will resolve the issue. In a few more decades (or years) settlement expansion will make make the creation of a Palestinian State impossible and that the lack of freedom and rights will inspire more and more Palestinians to just leave. They imagine that the rest of the world will watch the process without comment and that America will always be there to protect them if anybody ever does object. It is all a fantasy.
The reality is that the default has been set to a One State Solution a long time ago. Without action there will be only one State occupying the land between the sea and the Jordan river. The old map above will be correct if you cross out “Palestine” and write in “Israel”. It will be one state, but it will also be a state where the majority of the population is Palestinian. This demographic time bomb spells doom for Israel. Jeffery Goldberg broke it down in a new column for Bloomberg:
If I were a Palestinian (and, should there be any confusion on this point, I am not), and if I were the sort of Palestinian who believed that Israel should be wiped off the map, then I would be quite pleased with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance before Congress this morning. [snip]
My goal: To hopelessly, ineradicably, entangle the two peoples wedged between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Then I would wait as the Israeli population on the West Bank grew, and grew some more. I would wait until 2017, 50 years after the Six Day War, which ended with Israel in control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I would go before the UN and say the following:
“We, the Palestinians, no longer seek a homeland of our own. We recognize the permanence of Israeli occupation, the dominion of the Israeli military and the power of the Israeli economy. So we would like to join them. In the 50 years since the beginning of the ’temporary’ occupation, we have seen hundreds of thousands of Israelis build communities near our own communities. We admire what they have built, and the system of laws that governs their lives. Unlike them, many of us live under Israeli military law but have no say in choosing the Israelis who rule us. So we no longer want statehood. We simply want the vote.”
And this, of course, would bring about the end of Israel.
All the Palestinians have to do is wait and they will win. Time and history is on their side. The default to a One-State solution means that eventually the land will be controlled by the Palestinians or that the Israelis will have to create an Apartheid state base on denying an ethnic majority any rights to maintain an identity as a Jewish nation. Either way, will mean the destruction of Israel in the next fifty years.
This pathway to the destruction of Israel as a Democratic state is what Netanyahu is advocating. It was embarrassing to see Congress endorse his glide path to doom. A Two-State solution is almost completely dead. Coming up with a map that can deal with the ever expanding settlements grows more impossible with each new building. And yet, President Obama tried to save the concept of two states last week as he pointed out that time was just about up:
Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This will make it harder and harder — without a peace deal — to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.
Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace.
Third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There’s a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World — in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it’s already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
And those are the facts.
And for this effort he has been attack for saying things he did not say, but so it goes–making up shit is what wingnuts do whether they are here or in Tel Aviv. I wish the President luck, but I expect that Netanyahu’s dedication to inaction guarantees a One-State solution. It is the default position and the outcome most likely to happen. The world is moving and the wingnut idea that reality will stand still with them is alway wrong. And yet that never stops them from trying to force reality into their fantasy.
It would be almost funny if they weren’t causing so much harm.