A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is currently accepted by much of the international community as well as the official position of the Israeli government.
Using the language of universal human rights, a one-state alternative has been promoted by those who wish to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state and its replacement with an Arab majority state.
You wouldn’t know this from reading the New York Times however. A feature article offers a revealing look at the attitudes of some Palestinians who advocate a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This includes the son of PA President Mahmoud Abbas:
The son, Tareq Abbas, a businessman who has long shied away from politics and spotlights, is part of a swelling cadre of prominent Palestinians advocating instead the creation of a single state stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in which Jews and Arabs would all be citizens with equal rights.
“If you don’t want to give me independence, at least give me civil rights,” Mr. Abbas, 48, said in a rare interview at his well-appointed apartment here as his father headed to Washington. “That’s an easier way, peaceful way. I don’t want to throw anything, I don’t want to hate anybody, I don’t want to shoot anybody. I want to be under the law.”
Indeed, a recurring theme throughout the story is the presentation of the one-state solution using the terminology of equal rights, human rights and peace. NY Times reporter Jodi Rudoren interviews the daughter of Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi:
“We know this feeling of living together with no problems,” Natalie said. “In a one-state solution, I see equality, I see peace. We shouldn’t cut the country in sides and stuff. Everyone should get their rights, live in their lands, that’s the most important thing.”
In the eyes of the average NY Times reader what could possibly be wrong with a one-state solution that is couched in these terms? The only reference to why anyone could be opposed to this appears in this paragraph:
While such a binational state is a nightmare for the vast majority of Jewish Israelis, Palestinians are comforted by demographics. There are already more Arabs than Jews living between the river and the sea, plus millions of Palestinian refugees, and generally higher Palestinian birthrates.
Why would such a bi-national state be such a “nightmare” for Jewish Israelis and why do Palestinian demographics matter? Jodi Rudoren does not explain, thereby failing to provide vital context. Jewish Israelis aren’t opposed to a one-state solution due to a lack of interest in equal rights. To them, the one-state solution is unacceptable because:
At its most basic level, the one-state solution denies the right of Jews to self-determination in their historical homeland and calls into question the very legitimacy of Israel as a state.
A bi-national state would have the same consequence as the “right of return” – the negation of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians, by virtue of a higher birthrate, would turn Jews into a minority before voting in favor of another Muslim Arab state in place of Israel.
The one-state solution is therefore simply a thinly veiled strategy for destroying the State of Israel and questioning its right to exist. As Sol Stern and Fred Siegel have written in the New York Sun:
The “one state” solution is a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state – a trope of the most extreme rejectionist elements within the Palestinian movement and their allies in Syria and Iran. Terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah want to create an Islamic Republic in place of Israel.
Alan Dershowitz has stated in the past:
The one-state solution proposal now being made by Palestinian lawyers and some anti-Israel academics is nothing more than a ploy. It is designed to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and to substitute another Islamic Arab state. Those who advocate the single state solution would never do so with regard to India, the former Yugoslavia, or other previously united states which have now been divided on ethnic or religious grounds.
On a practical level, a one-state solution is simply unworkable. As Palestinian columnist Ray Hanania writes:
the two-state solution will always be the only option because the premise of “one state” where Christians, Muslims and Jews can live side-by-side and with equality, is fundamentally flawed.
It is a fallacy that can never be achieved not just because Israelis won’t support it. The Arab and Islamic World don’t practice it. Exactly where do Jews and Christians live in the Islamic World today side-by-side with equality? We don’t even live side-by-side with equality in the Palestinian Diaspora.
The one-state solution is also proposed by those who refer to Israel as an “apartheid” state. Drawing upon this comparison, the example of post-apartheid South Africa is held up as a model for a bi-national Israeli-Palestinian state. However, former anti-apartheid activist Benjamin Pogrund explains in detail, examining issues of economy, religion, third-party intervention, political culture, violence and leadership, why the South African model does not fit the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
- Ethnically mixed states such as Yugoslavia demonstrate what can happen when competing nationalities are artificially brought together under one flag. The current conflicts in the Middle East, most notably in Syria also demonstrate that ethnic or religious divisions can lead to the most brutal violence. In the case of a unified Israeli-Palestinian state, experience has shown us that an Arab majority cannot be relied upon to respect the rights of other ethnic or national groups and that this could ultimately lead to violence and civil war.
While there are those who advocate a one-state solution as a means to destroy Israel, they are also aided by naive idealists and media outlets unprepared to address what such a solution means in practical terms. Ultimately, however, in the case of the NY Times, perhaps it boils down to a failure to recognize the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination in a state of their own.
Perhaps the NY Times and Jodi Rudoren may argue that this recognition is a given and it is unnecessary to delve into the details. However, at a time when Israel is on the receiving end of a campaign of delegitimization, it is only a small step before media outlets such as the NY Times enable the one-state solution and the end of Israel as a Jewish state to become a mainstream idea with all the dangers that entails.
Considering that the NY Times saw fit to publish a prominent opinion piece in favor of a one-state solution as recently as September 2013 on the front page of its Sunday Review, it is even more important to oppose this in the paper of record.
Send your letters to the New York Times - firstname.lastname@example.org – stating why a one-state solution is unacceptable to those who believe in the right of Jewish self-determination in a state of their own. Remember to include an address and phone number for your letter to be considered for publication.