Book Review - Rethinking the Israeli-Palestinian Equation
Caroline Glick, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East (New York: Crown Forum, 2014), 352 pp. $25.00.
Want to raise some eyebrows in a hurry? Mention that you don’t support a two-state solution to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Washington and New York, London and Paris, even parts of Tel Aviv and Haifa, you’ll be tagged on the left as a Jewish religious zealot with dreams of a “Greater Israel” and on the right as a Palestinian apologist with dreams of wiping out Israel.
Indeed, the two-state solution—or, as proponents invariably describe it, “two states living side by side in peace” —is what unites liberals and conservatives at a time when, in the United States and across the West, they agree on little else. But the logic behind two-state-ism and the evidence to support it melts away upon close inspection.
Now, some officials and pundits are beginning to chip away at the two-state consensus. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of the Economy and leader of its Jewish Home Party, launched a frontal assault on the two-state solution recently, suggesting in a New York Times op-ed that Israel will be more secure and Palestinians can be more prosperous if Israel retains control of the West Bank.
A longer, more comprehensive, and ultimately more satisfying assault comes, however, in the form of The Israeli Solution, the new book from the sharp-penned Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick. By focusing clearly on both regional history and contemporary events, she delivers a devastating critique that should leave two-state proponents in desperate search of new ammunition.
“Ironically,” Glick writes in the early pages of her searing treatise, “the two-state solution is among the most irrational, unsuccessful policies the United States has ever adopted. For the past ninety years, the two-state solution has been tried more than a dozen times, and every time it has failed, abysmally.” In fact, the United States has been so eager to pursue it that it rescued the Palestine Liberation Organization from abandonment by the Arab world and elevated the Palestinian Authority as a regional player.
For the United States, she argues, the cost of such a fruitless strategy is greater than simply lost time. Persistent failure makes America look increasingly weak in the Muslim world, and the same U.S. thinking that stresses the primacy of the Israeli-Palestinian issue clouds America’s judgment about far more important regional challenges.
In the place of what, she predicts, will only be more failure if Washington continues to pursue this approach, Glick proposes “a one-state plan for peace in the Middle East,” with Israel extending its own law to the West Bank—or, as she notes, the land known throughout most of history as Judea and Samaria. Israel would replace the authoritarian, corrupt, rights-abusing Palestinian Authority and grant permanent Israeli residency status to West Bank Palestinians and enable them to apply for Israeli citizenship. Gaza, over which the terrorist group Hamas rules, would not be included.
Glick’s proposal is provocative and compelling, and one can only imagine the hysterical reaction among Palestinian leaders, U.S. officials, European parliamentarians, and global opinion leaders were Israel to pursue it. Anticipating such a reaction, Glick argues that she has history and legality on her side and that many Palestinians would welcome the move because, as they’ve increasingly come to see, they’d enjoy far more freedom and prosperity under rule by Israel than by the Palestinian Authority.
The real value of this book, however, is less in what Glick proposes for the long run than how she gets there. She first shreds the foundation for the two-state solution in devastating fashion, leaving readers to surely wonder why successive American administrations have pushed for it in the face of such failure, or why no administration has grappled seriously with the reasons behind that failure.
Take, for instance, the rationale for two states. In successive U.S. administrations and across America’s foreign policy establishment, Glick notes, all-too-many “experts” believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict holds the key to regional nirvana. Primed by Arab leaders who’d rather steer attention to the conflict than address their own nations’ problems, America’s opinion leaders believe that Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuels anti-Israeli and anti-American terrorism far beyond its borders and dissuades Arab nations from engaging in a broader regional peace with Israel.
With a two-state solution, the experts argue, Washington would be better placed to address such regional issues as Afghanistan’s uncertain future, Syria’s civil war, and Iran’s nuclear pursuit. That is, Arab leaders have been hoodwinking generations of naïve U.S. leaders to this way of thinking, though there’s no reason to believe that Afghanistan’s Taliban, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, or anyone else of note in the region cares about the Palestinians.
Or take the urgency for two states. Western leaders, lawmakers, and pundits alike cite demographic data that purport to show that, at some point, Palestinians will outnumber Jews in the land that Israel controls. When that happens, they argue, Israel’s leaders will either have to opt for an apartheid-like approach toward the Palestinians to retain Israel’s Jewish character or let democracy run its course and cost Israel that character. But as Glick shows, the “studies” on which that demographic fatalism rests are deeply, purposefully flawed—and, if anything, Israel will likely build its Jewish majority in the coming years rather than lose it.
Or take the foundation for two states. U.S. and Western leaders presume the right combination of concessions by Israel on Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem’s status, and other issues will bring the land-for-peace formula successfully to fruition. But true peace—in which both sides respect each other’s existence and borders—derives less from the deal-making of diplomats than from the hearts of populations. And, as Glick shows in great detail, the Palestinian people and their leaders have never really accepted the premise of Israel’s long-term existence. Their leaders continue to advocate for its destruction (though so-called “moderates” eschew such language for gullible Western audiences) while its people absorb the Jew-hating filth that spews forth from Palestinian mosques and schoolbooks.
If you read this book, as you should, then you, too, may wonder why you had supported the two-state solution as the one true path to peace.
Lawrence J. Haas, former Communications Director to Vice President Gore, is a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.