A Palestinian Strategy To Wake Israel's Middle Up


Bob Wright - surveying the grim present and ominous future in Israel/Palestine - proffers this one-state-to-two-states idea to get moderate Israelis less indifferent to the need for a breakthrough before catastrophe arrives:

If Palestinians want to strike fear into the hearts of Israelis they should (a) give up on violence as a tool of persuasion; (b) give up on the current round of negotiations; and (c) start holding demonstrations in which they ask for only one thing: the right to vote. Their argument would be simple: They live under Israeli rule, and Israel is a democracy, so why aren’t they part of it?

A truly peaceful movement with such elemental aspirations think of Martin Luther King or Gandhi would gain immediate international support. In Europe and the United States, leftists would agitate in growing numbers for economic and political pressure on Israel.

In 2002, some Harvard students urged the university to purge investments in Israel from its portfolio, and the president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, suggested that the disinvestment movement was anti-Semitic. This time there would be a lot more students, and no university president would call them anti-Semitic. All they’d be saying is that if Israel isn’t going to give up the occupied territories and, let’s face it, the current government isn’t exactly in headlong pursuit of that goal it should give Arabs living there the same rights it gives Jews living there.

As momentum grew more Palestinians marching, more international support for them, thus more Palestinians marching, and so on the complacent Israeli center would get way less complacent. Suddenly facing a choice between a one-state solution and international ostracism, reasonable Israelis would develop a burning attraction to a two-state solution and a sudden intolerance for religious zealots who stood in the way of it. Before long Israel would be pondering two-state deals more generous than anything that’s been seriously discussed to date.

Well, it's one way to break past the Israeli refusal to stop building settlements. But I'm afraid the far right in Israel (which controls the current government and would cripple any other with violence) is so wedded to permanent occupation of the West Bank as a religious duty this kind of international pressure would backfire. You can also be sure that AIPAC would describe such a campaign for enfranchisement of West Bank Palestinians as an attack on Israel as a Jewish state and ipso facto anti-Semitic. But Bob, unlike the allegedly pro-Israel lobby, is right to see that the current stalemate cannot last:

Given the ongoing damage done to America’s national security by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s in America’s interest for Israelis to feel intensely eager for a two-state deal. And some do.

As for the others: if they really grasped their predicament, they’d be intensely eager as well. The menu of futures for Israel features only three items: (1) two-state solution; (2) one-state solution; (3) something really, really horrible. There’s just no way that the situation will simmer indefinitely without boiling over, whether via nuclear bomb (purchased by terrorists from cash-hungry North Korea, say), or via a tit-for-tat exchange with Hamas or Hezbollah that spins out of control, bringing a devastating regional war, or via some other path to catastrophe.

Sooner or later, something will alert Israel’s unfortunately silent majority to the high price of leaving the Palestinian issue unresolved. The only question is whether by then the price will have already been paid.

(Photo: Israeli settlers walk along al-Shuhada street, past two of dozens of shuttered Palestinian owned shops daubed with the Jewish Star of David, on September 28, 2010, in the West Bank town of Hebron, after Palestinians were forced years ago to move out of the old quarter by the Israeli army to allow for the Jewish settlers to move securely in the area. A few hundred hardline Jewish settlers live under heavy Israeli military protection in the heart of the town of 160,000 mostly Muslim Palestinians. By Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty.)