The Israeli One-State Solution
Caroline Glick has written a provocative new book entitled The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. In it, she argues that the futile quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict over the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is misguided, ill-conceived and doomed to failure. As have many before her, she points out that the "two states for two peoples" mantra, which is promoted so mindlessly by clueless diplomats, statesmen and pundits, and whose outline is broadly 'known' to all who envision it, would result in a death sentence for the Jewish State. Those who favor the two-state solution are often untroubled by that prospect. Or they deny, in unconvincing fashion, that such an outcome is likely. Moreover, "friends" of Israel bemoan the fact that there is no other choice: If the two-state solution is not implemented, then Israel either loses its Jewish character or its democratic nature. This is inevitable – just ask that great friend of Israel, John Kerry.
Balderdash, replies Glick. She argues that the demographic time bomb that is supposedly ticking louder and louder is a myth. The estimates (provided by the PLO) of the number of Arab residents in Judea and Samaria (the biblical names of the two regions comprising the so-called West Bank) are wildly inflated. Moreover, they discount the substantial and ongoing Arab emigration from the area. Glick claims that the ratio of Jews to Arabs among all the peoples in the disputed area (that is, comprising Israel proper, plus Judea and Samaria, but not Gaza) is roughly 2-1. Moreover, she claims, the fertility rate amongst the Jews has now drawn even (at approximately 3.1) to that of the Arabs -- and more critically, according to Glick, the Jewish rate continues to rise while the Arab rate shows no sign of abating from its recent steep plummet. She asserts that with the likely continuation of these trends, augmented by ongoing Jewish immigration, the ratio in the not too distant future could approach 4-1, even 5-1, that is, the current ratio within Israel itself.
Therefore, says Glick, Israel should assert sovereignty over the disputed territory, expel the PLO and offer citizenship to the remaining Arab residents. A one-state solution! But not the Judenrein one envisioned by Abbas, nor the one that haunts Jewish lefties in Israel (and the US) who foresee a demographic and political disaster if Israel continues to "occupy the West Bank."
Glick's plan is simple, bold, controversial and provocative. Her analysis of the current situation and of the preceding machinations that have led to the current "stalemate" is cogent, comprehensive, clear-eyed and convincing. Here are some of the main points she makes:
- Virtually all of the proponents of the two-state solution (Americans, Europeans, left-wing Israelis; although perhaps not Russians, and certainly no Arab) envision that such an eventuality will be accompanied by a total cessation of hostilities and complete acknowledgment by both sides of the legitimacy of the others' state. There is not a shred of evidence that the Arabs -- either in the disputed area or outside of it -- are at all interested in such a comprehensive and final peace. They view Israel's existence -- within any borders -- as an affront and a catastrophe (Nakba) that can only be corrected by the disappearance (through either annihilation or suicide) of the sovereign Jewish State.
- This is proven by the fact that several times in the last two decades, Israel has offered a deal that comports closely with the envisioned two-state solution. Arafat and/or Abbas flatly rejected these offers. Glick points out that such rejections have been going on for nearly a century. She cites the rejection and invasion of 1948 as well as previous rejections by Arafat's mentor, Haj Amin el-Husseini.
- The Arabs of Judea and Samaria will be far better off as residents (with or without citizenship) of Israel than they are as subjects of the kleptocracy that the PLO currently imposes on Judea and Samaria. Like their brethren in Israel proper, they would benefit from living under the rule of law and would profit from heretofore unimagined economic opportunities. To quote her:
“An Israeli renunciation of the two-state solution and embrace of the Israeli one-state plan, which is based on actual Israeli rights rather than fictitious Israeli culpability, would liberate Israel to craft coherent strategies for contending with the rapidly evolving regional threat environment and the international assault on its right to exist. And at the more mundane level of the lives of individuals -- Jews and Arabs alike -- Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria will increase the security of all. It will transform the region from one governed alternatively by a military government and a terrorist kleptocracy into one governed by a unified, liberal rule of law. Civil and property rights of Muslims, Christians, and Jews will be protected rather than neglected or denied outright.”
- Israel will be vilified -- especially by the EU -- if it implements Glick's one-state solution. So what, says Glick. Israel is already vilified. Any economic sanctions the EU might impose on Israel will hurt the Europeans nearly as much as Israel. Moreover, such actions can be readily deflected by Israel's burgeoning trade and relations with less anti-Semitic customers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
America's reaction. Here is a potential weakness in Glick's presentation. She fails to present any estimate of how America might respond to Israel's implementation of her one-state solution. She eschews any such conjecture in favor of outlining how she believes America should react to such an Israeli initiative. She makes a compelling case that US backing for an Israeli one-state solution is indeed in America's interest. To wit:“
The British failure in governing the Palestine Mandate was bipartisan: the Labour and Conservative Parties both got it wrong, consistently. Both failed to understand that their efforts to appease the Arabs were futile. Both failed to appreciate the value of their alliance with the Jews and to recognize that the Jews were not the obstacle to peace. Both failed to recognize that factors outside their control determined regional realities and informed the decisions of local actors, particularly in the Arab world.
Eighty years later, had President Bill Clinton learned from Britain’s experience, and from the full history of the failure of the two-state solution, perhaps he would not have allowed Yassir Arafat to make him into a failure as well. But not only did Clinton not learn from Britain’s experience, he and his two successors embraced the same failed policy dream that the British had chased for decades. Clinton, Bush, and Obama’s failure to recognize the impossibility of the two-state solution played a significant, and arguably decisive, role in their difficulties in crafting successful policies not only toward Israel and the Palestinians but toward the Middle East overall.”
“The consistent U.S. policy of treating the PLO and Palestinian terrorism as distinct and more legitimate than non-Palestinian terrorism against non-Israeli and non-Jewish targets has not enhanced the U.S. position in the Arab world. Rather, it has damaged that position. America’s consistent policy of accepting the narrative that the Palestinian conflict is the root cause of the Arab world’s conflict with Israel, and a central determinant of the policies of Arab governments, has caused great harm to overall U.S. national interests.”
However, there are many ways that the withdrawal of American support for Israel could place the Jewish State in mortal peril. I think that, at heart, Glick assays that the fundamental sympathy for and identification with the people of Israel by the people of the US is so strong that even a hostile administration like that of Barack Obama could not bring about an American betrayal of the Jewish State. If so, Glick would have been well-advised to state this clearly. I generally share that assessment; but given the numerous blind alleys down which America has allowed itself to be led by the prophet Obama, I don't share her implicit optimism.
Glick is a well-respected and influential commentator on the Israeli scene. She is clearly firmly entrenched on the right end of the Israeli political spectrum, but I imagine that her bold recommendation will get serious consideration in many quarters. Does it stand a chance of gaining enough support to render it a viable option that might be implemented? More importantly, should it?
In answer to the first question, I think the power and originality of her arguments will be hard to ignore. Twenty years of the Oslo process have resulted in a dismal failure in that peace with the Arabs of Judea and Samaria is no closer today than it was originally in 1993, or in 1967, or 1948, or 1929. And the concrete results of Oslo have been horrendous -- in a soft sense in the keen disappointment felt by all at its failure; and in a hard sense in the more than a thousand Israelis brutally murdered in the so-called second Intifada. Moreover, our benighted Secretary of State has promised a third Intifada as a consequence of Oslo's failure. The only sane conclusion: A different course of action should be pursued.
Now, Glick's scenario has been denounced as unacceptable, unrealistic, and even delusional. But is it the right course of action? I believe that it will be studied and debated assiduously by the Israeli public. Will they adopt it?
In fact, Glick makes a powerful case that Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is completely warranted by the terms of the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and the San Remo Conference. Of that I have no doubt. But, despite its legitimacy, and in spite of the favorable demographics, the idea of amalgamating the Arabs of Judea and Samaria into the Israeli nation and rendering the resultant Arab population of Israel in excess of 35% is fraught with danger. I don’t know whether "second class citizen" is the right term to describe the Arabs of Israel, but there is no question that because they don’t serve in the Army and because they are non-Jewish residents of the world's unique Jewish State, they are something less than full members of society. It is perhaps a bit of a miracle that the current 15-20% Arab population of Israel hasn't raised a ruckus. The temptation to do so will increase dramatically if the percentage doubles. The state could be destabilized well before Glick's friendly demographics kick in to reduce 35% back to half that amount -- if it really ever happens.
Perhaps that is a risk that the Jews of Israel would like to take. The alternative is to persevere in the current unsatisfactory and inherently unstable political situation. But, life is good in Israel today and things have been mostly quiet for the better part of a decade. It is certainly the easier road to leave well enough alone. Is that the wiser choice? Or is Glick's recipe the one to cook up?
Ron Lipsman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Maryland, writes about politics, culture, education, science and sports at http://ronlipsman.com