The Two-State Solution is the Best, and Only, Solution

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government is hosting a conference later this week sponsored by what might be called a group of soft-eliminationists, people who seek the same end for Israel as does Hamas, but through different, ostensibly more-humane, means. The soft-eliminationists advocate for something called the "one-state solution," which would, in fact, mean Israel's disappearance as a Jewish-majority state and its replacement by an Arab-majority state. Of course, it wouldn't work, even if Israel's Jews somehow agreed to dissolve their country voluntarily. I write a bit about the Harvard conference, and the goals of this movement, in my Bloomberg View column this week, but I would also point you to Gershom Gorenberg's excellent book, "The Unmaking of Israel" (which I reviewed here), for a full investigation into the absurdity of the so-called one-state solution.

What is the alternative to a one-state solution? A two-state solution -- a Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Why is the one-state idea getting some airplay now? In part because there is little hope at the moment of seeing the two-state solution being implemented. Whose fault is that? Everyone's, including and especially Hamas's, which controls half of would-be Palestine, and Benjamin Netanyahu's, for failing to convince just about anyone that his embrace of two-statism is sincere. More on all this later (I'm still traveling some). But here is an outtake from my column, with an emphasis on Gorenberg's analysis:

Some of the most persuasive arguments against one-statism, in fact, come from the left. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby group in Washington, told me that the one-state solution is a "one-state nightmare." Gershom Gorenberg, in his new book, "The Unmaking of Israel," a jeremiad directed at the Jewish settlement movement, writes at length about the absurdity at the heart of the proposal.

"Palestinians will demand the return of property lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame."

Gorenberg predicts that Israelis of means would flee this new state, leaving it economically crippled. "Financing development in majority-Palestinian areas and bringing Palestinians into Israel's social welfare network would require Jews to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services. But the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry. Both individuals and companies will leave."

In the best case, this new dystopia by the sea would be paralyzed by endless argument: "Two nationalities who have desperately sought a political frame for cultural and social independence would wrestle over control of language, art, street names, and schools." In the worst case, Gorenberg writes, political tensions "would ignite as violence."
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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