As I wrote earlier, Peter Beinart and the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg claim Israel must evacuate the West Bank of Jews or be faced with an inevitable scenario in which they will either be forced to accept a one-state solution that means the end of Zionism or be branded an apartheid state. But this is a false choice. The settlements would not prevent a two-state solution if the Palestinians were willing to accept one in the first place. They have repeatedly refused such a deal, and the continuance of the status quo is their fault, not Israel’s.
But is it reasonable to assume, as do Beinart and Goldberg, that eventually Americans will tire of supporting Israel under these circumstances? Will the leftist repetition of the false canard that Israel is a new South Africa wear down the bipartisan coalition that is the foundation of the U.S.-Israel alliance and, sooner or later, force the Israelis to either accept the creation of a Palestinian state — that may or may not be controlled by the Islamists of Hamas — or be abandoned by Washington and American Jewry? The answer is no. Such a notion assumes that Americans–Jews and non-Jews alike–are indifferent to Israel’s security dilemma or ignorant or indifferent to the nature of the Palestinian political culture or their intentions.
In his piece, Goldberg alludes to the security implications of a full withdrawal from the West Bank under the current circumstances. But he assumes that this is merely a factor that must be ignored for the sake of peace or avoiding the apartheid smear. But doing so would inevitably mean replicating what Israel faced when it unilaterally withdrew from Gaza: the creation of a Hamas state that functions as both a safe haven for terrorists and as reminder that the Palestinian goal is not independence but the destruction of Israel. No one in Israel, even on the political left whose parties have been decimated by the failure of the peace process they advocated, wants to see the standoff in Gaza — where rockets routinely fly over the border to hit Israeli towns and villages — repeated next to the main population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. So long as that is true, there will never be an Israeli majority for more territorial surrender.
Nor is it likely that there will be much support for such a scheme in the United States. The idea that most Americans would ever support imposing a new, bigger and even more dangerous Hamasistan in the West Bank is utterly fanciful. Most understand, even if Beinart does not, that the Palestinians are not particularly interested in peace and that risking the empowerment of a group allied with Iran is sheer idiocy. Indeed, that is a scenario even the Obama administration fears.
As President Obama learned earlier this year (when he sought to orchestrate more pressure on the Netanyahu government by ambushing the prime minister during a visit to Washington by announcing that the 1967 lines should be the basis for future negotiations), Israel’s backing in this county is broad-based and deep. The instinctual backing for its security and distaste for the Palestinians and their goal of its destruction is also not to be underestimated.
There is no reason, other than wishful thinking by the Palestinians and some of their sympathizers here, to think this will change at any time in the foreseeable future if, for no other reason, than the Palestinians haven’t changed.
But even if this is true, won’t Americans eventually accept the South Africa analogy and give up on Israel? More on that in my next post.