Commentary Magazine


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Two State Solutionism

Jeffrey Goldberg has written amusingly about his susceptibility to “solutionism” – the “American national religion, which holds that for every intractable problem there is a logical and available answer.”  The related faith-based belief system known as two-state solutionism (the conviction that a Palestinian state would live side by side with Israel in peace and security, because — well it just will) increasingly depends on “explainawayism” – which holds that for every Palestinian rejection of a second state there is a logical and available reason why it was Israel’s fault.

Goldberg’s review of Benny Morris’s “One State, Two States:  Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict” in today’s New York Times Book Review contains some unfortunate examples of explainawayism.  He criticizes the view of “the Morris camp” that the rocket fire following Israel’s Gaza withdrawal was another instance of unyielding Arab rejectionism.  In Goldberg’s view, the problem was that Ariel Sharon should have “negotiated” it with the PA, which would then “have been able to prove to its constituents that it could extract concessions from Israel.”

The disengagement may not have been “negotiated” with the PA, but it was certainly coordinated with it and gave it the opportunity to demonstrate it was ready for a state.  Six months after agreeing to the Roadmap, Mahmoud Abbas had bragged to the Palestinian legislature that he had resisted American and Israel pressure to start dismantling terrorist groups.  In response, Israel announced it would dismantle all 21 Gaza settlements (not merely “outposts”) and turn over Gaza to the PA to enable it to demonstrate its ability (or inability) to live side by side in peace security.  Haaretz reported on September 14, 2005 that:

Abbas, in honor of the completion of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip . . . declared, “From this day forth, there will be no more security turmoil and weapons chaos and abductions, which are not characteristic of our culture.” . . . .

Palestinian Minister Mohammed Dahlan, who was in charge of coordinating the withdrawal, said the Palestinians were ready to deal with any scenario . . . .

In less than a week, former synagogues were burned, greenhouses were destroyed, borders were breached, munitions were imported, and rockets and tunnels into Israel followed.  Four months later, the Palestinians elected the group responsible for this to control their government.

Benny Morris’s book is an extremely valuable account, going back 90 years, of the history of one- and two-state solutions, which puts events such as the failure of the disengagement into a useful historical context.  Goldberg acknowledges the facts, but retains his faith in two-state solutionism, ending his review with this conclusion:

This is not to overlook the great dysfunction among the Palestinians, whose national liberation movement remains, 89 years since the third Palestine Arab Congress, bloody-minded and incompetent. Gaza, after all, is currently ruled by a cult that sanctifies murder-suicide. But there are many Palestinians on the West Bank, and even in Gaza, who reject the Hamas way and seek dignity and quiet within the framework of an independent state that coexists with Israel.

In other words:  Arab two-state rejectionism is now in its ninth decade, with a bloody-minded “national liberation” movement focused more on destroying its neighbor than creating a state, with a political system split between a party characterized by incompetence – a better word would probably be corruption – and a cult that was elected into office, with pervasive societal sanctification of murder-suicide, which turned Gaza into a terrorist state and would probably win a West Bank election today, but [insert explainawayism here].