The Israeli Solution
To Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor at the Jerusalem Post, the concept of a "two-state solution," carving an invented state of Palestine from the tiny body of Israel and hopefully expecting the two resulting entities to live in harmony is, at best, a "chimera." Worse, it is a "humiliating, dangerous nightmare"; and worst of all, it spells the end of Israel.
What Glick proposes in her provocative new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, (available March 4) is to brush away the web of mischief, ignorance, deceit and hatred that surrounds the "peace plan," and with newfound clarity, get rid of the misbegotten thing entirely. In its place, she proposes a one-state plan, the one state being Israel.
In Glick's own words:
The Israeli one-state plan entails the application of Israeli law-- and through it, Israeli sovereignty-- over the west bank of the Jordan River: the area that, from biblical times through the 1950s, was known to the world as Judea and Samaria. In Israel, Judea and Samaria remain the terms used to refer to the territory….
Judea and Samaria are the terms she uses throughout. Israel having withdrawn from Gaza in 2005, Glick does not include Gaza in her plan, nor does she believe, for legal and strategic reasons, that it should be reabsorbed into Israel. Her one-state solution, the application of Israeli law and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, which is "based on actual Israeli rights rather than fictitious Israeli culpability,"
would liberate Israel to craft coherent strategies for contending with the…evolving regional threat and the international assault on its right to exist….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.
The sine qua non of her plan, of course, is the understanding that the Jewish people are the indigenous Palestinians, not "colonial usurpers" or "occupying powers." "At no time," she reminds us, "have there been no Jews in the Land of Israel." She gives us census figures from the Roman holocaust of the first century CE and the subsequent Bar Kochba rebellion up to the 19th century "dawn of modern Zionism," when Jews again were the majority in Jerusalem. And she touches on some of the archeological finds that suggest a significant Jewish presence as early as 1050 BCE. Considering that the Palestinians have been trying to erase all vestiges of Jewish presence in Israel,
[T]he reconstitution of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel is an unprecedented historic accomplishment. No other indigenous people has preserved its national identity for so long and against such great odds, only to repatriate itself to its historic homeland….
But Glick stresses that her one-state plan is not intended as punishment of the Palestinians. On the contrary, she repeatedly demonstrates that Israeli rule has always been and will continue to be of great benefit to the Palestinians. After the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, for instance, Israel's recapture of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria was, for the Palestinian Arabs, "an economic and civil rights boon." The entire population of 65,000 "lined up to receive Israeli identification cards that granted them permanent residency status in Israel." Among the positive results of "Israel's benign rule," she cites impressive statistics on improved Arab living standards, employment, GDP, literacy, schools and universities, life expectancy (48 in 1967, 72 in 2000), infant mortality, clinics, sewage, electricity and health insurance. Equally important,
[U]nder Israeli rule, the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza exercised political freedoms that were nonexistent in the rest of the Arab world. These included freedom of association, freedom of the press, enfranchisement of women, and the ability to seek the protection of the Israeli court system.
Keep in mind that during the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, not only were Jews prohibited from buying land, but any Arab accused of selling land to Jews faced the death penalty, and in many cases, still may.
Moving us to the present impasse requires Glick, of course, to provide a look at the historical background and context. In her necessarily condensed summary, Glick draws an inexorable line from European anti-Semitism through the treacheries of the British, with their Peel Commission and infamous White Paper, and the murderous antics of their Nazi sidekick Haj Amin El-Husseini, inventor of the Palestinians. Then come the spawn of El-Husseini, Arafat and now Abbas. There was the insanity of the Oslo Accords, which led in turn to the American "bipartisan pipe dream," currently embodied in the tragicomic farce that is John Kerry.
This is a history of heroes, villains and dupes, including numerous Israelis. But when it comes to American involvement, no one escapes whipping. In the face of continuous and open Palestinian calls for the complete destruction of the Jewish state, American administrations from Nixon's to Obama's have committed themselves to some version of a plan to establish a Palestinian state on all or most of the land won by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The story of American pro-Palestinianism does not make for pleasant reading. It is difficult to be reminded of the slippery words of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama; to confront again the loony obsession with Israel while the entire world is ablaze; to have to face, as Glick forces us to do, that were it not for America's feckless policy, the PLO would probably have self-destructed. To add to the irony, the Arab world would not have cared: Witness King Hussein of Jordan's 1970 slaughter of thousands of Palestinians. Or recall that in 1982, when Israel forced the PLO out of Lebanon, "no Arab regime offered to host them. It took U.S. pressure to persuade Tunisia to accept them. It would seem, says Glick, that the "wider Arab world's assessment of Arafat was voiced by Jordan's King Hussein, who reportedly remarked, 'Arafat never came to a bridge that he didn't double-cross.'" But successive American administrations were snookered.
One significant result of this misguided policy is that it "has affected America's ability to assess Israel's strategic importance to U.S. national security; to understand the motivations and interests of Israel's Arab neighbors; and to comprehend how those motivations and interests affect those of the United States." Worse yet, it has damaged American standing in the Arab world. And perhaps most damaging, the United States has failed to learn from Israeli experience: "Israel's experience in Lebanon was a textbook case for how events would likely unfold for the United States and its British allies in Iraq." If only we'd paid attention.
Glick, then, provides three options open to Israel:
1. Reassert the military government as the sole governing body [in Judea and Samaria]. This response, she says, is not tenable over the long term. The Palestinians definitely live better under Israel's military government than they did under any previous government. However, "both Arabs and Jews have the right to expect to be governed by a democratic, civilian government."
2. Maintain the current dual governance by the [Israeli] military government and the Palestinian Authority. If this were possible, she says, "the two-state paradigm would also be viable -- and indeed, a Palestinian state would have been established fifteen years ago." But once again, the Palestinian hierarchy is completely opposed to peaceful co-existence with the Jewish state, period.
3. Incorporate Judea and Samaria into sovereign Israel. This, of course, is Glick's proposal, and, she stresses, for many strategic reasons, the sooner the better. As she describes the plan,
Applying Israeli law to the areas would end the authoritarian repression that the Palestinians suffer under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. As permanent residents of Israel, with the option of applying for Israeli citizenship, the Palestinians would find themselves living in a liberal democracy where their individual rights are protected.
Contingent on security concerns—applied on individual rather than on a communal basis—Palestinians will have the right to travel and live anywhere they wish within Israeli territory. Similarly, Israeli Jews will also be allowed to live anywhere they wish. All prohibitions on property and land sales to Jews will be abrogated.
From the outset, as permanent residents of Israel, Palestinians will have the right to elect their local governments. Those that receive Israeli citizenship…will also be allowed to vote in national elections for the Knesset. The Israeli education system will be open to them. The Israeli economy will be open to them.
Washington will have to "acknowledge that the two-state paradigm has been a disastrous failure," but it will be able finally to cease its funding of the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli military government will be dissolved, and the PA will no longer be the Palestinians' representative.
Glick sees one immediate problem: "the sudden influx of a large, unassimilated Arab population," but she sees it as a potential burden on Israel's welfare services, not as a demographic "time bomb," as is often feared. She whacks this straw man, noting that "the actual population data -- together with current population growth trends for Israel and the Palestinians -- make clear that there is no Palestinian demographic time bomb. In fact, demography is one of Israel's greatest advantages."
To be sure, there are many potential problems, and perhaps the least persuasive section of the book attempts to deal with some of the "likely responses," which are, after all, unknowable. But Glick is nothing if not intrepid, and we, fingers crossed, follow her arguments.
The Palestinians, for example:
The Palestinians have two means of responding to an Israeli decision to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria: terrorism and diplomatic warfare. But these are, of course, the same means available to them today…and the Palestinians are already operating at full capacity or near-full capacity in both spheres. As a result, it is difficult to imagine how the Palestinians could respond more forcefully to an Israeli one-state plan than they are already behaving on a daily basis.
Of course, terrorism would still be a possibility, and even a "massacre." But, she coolly asserts, "Such an attack would likely be a one-time deal," and Israel, which experienced a "sustained campaign of mass terrorism" from September 2000 to April 2002, will not suffer another such.
Another threat that cannot be ignored is that the Palestinians "might call for an international boycott of Israel." But the attractiveness of Israel's economy minimizes the effectiveness of that option. "In Britain, for instance, hatred for Israel is galloping, yet bilateral trade between Israel and Britain is booming and growing, with the trade balance in Israel's favor."
What about Egypt? It is far from clear, says Glick, that Egypt "has the logistical capacity to move its U.S.- made M1A1 Abrams tanks across the Sinai to engage Israeli forces, and to replenish its forces with spare parts, food, and reinforcements. Egypt is, in fact, impoverished."
And Jordan? "[T]he Hashemite regime's likely, indeed all-but-certain response to an Israeli decision to apply its laws to Judea and Samaria will be to publicly condemn the move and privately celebrate it." It is also far from certain how long the Hashemites will be in power.
Then, of course, there is Syria, "deeply dangerous for Israel and for the wider region." But under the awful circumstances of today's Syria, "Assad would have little capacity to respond." Hezb’allah is the wild card: Now tied down in Syria, it is weaker at home. Should Iran emerge as a nuclear power, Hezb’allah would be freer to concentrate on Israel. Thus, she repeats, "Israel would be well advised" to make its move before that happens.
Her predictions about Europe are the most convincing. A pacifist, de-militarized, toothless giant, Europe, she feels, poses absolutely no military threat. Its only coherent foreign policy, she says, is its hatred for Israel. Then too, "EU member state governments aggressively compete with each other in courting Israeli internet, biomedical, agri-tech, and other high-tech companies to partner with their countries." And for Israel's part, with its newfound Asian partners rapidly expanding trade with Israel, it may in the end need Europe less than Europe needs Israel.
Finally and most importantly, Glick turns back to America, for whom she frankly admits she is writing this book:
[T]he Israeli one-state plan will liberate Americans from the stranglehold of the two-state solution's mythology. For the first time in a generation, American foreign policy hands, politicians, and regular citizens will be able to see the Arab and Islamic worlds for what they are, and not view them through the distorting, mendacious lens of a policy paradigm that falsely places the blame for all their failings and problems on Israel.
In other words, the United States will regain something it seems to have lost: the truth.