One is tempted to leave Ian Lustick’s Sunday op-ed, “Two-State Illusion,” alone. Its stench is so overwhelming that one might expect it to harm Lustick’s cause without the need for commentary. But because Lustick is a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, one of our most prestigious universities, and because the New York Times has chosen to amplify his view, it is worth considering as a symptom of the depravity of the anti-Israeli left, as what passes for sober commentary in that crowd.
Let me set aside Lustick’s argument against the two-state solution and begin with what is most shocking in his op-ed, his own proposed solution. Lustick argues that the U.S. and others should abandon the two-state solution and let the parties fight it out. The key passage must be quoted at length:
With a status but no role, what remains of the Palestinian authority will disappear. Israel will face the stark challenge of controlling economic and political activity and all land and water resources from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The stage will be set for ruthless oppression, mass mobilization, riots, brutality, terror, Jewish and Arab emigration and rising tides of international condemnation of Israel (my emphasis).
Lustick makes explicit the nihilism of the anti-Israeli left. He has no strong reason to believe that the bloodbath he wishes on the Israelis and Palestinians will have results favorable to either. But why not break a few eggs if there’s some prospect of an omelette? Like many on the anti-Israeli left, but more explicitly, Lustick is prepared to entertain a morally satisfying position, which costs him nothing but means a blood sacrifice for those whose best interests he professes to have in mind.
Having dealt with the most disgusting elements of the op-ed, let me draw attention to the schoolboy contradiction at the heart of Lustick’s argument. He thinks that a two-state solution is impossible. The sole reason he offers for thinking it impossible is that the facts on the ground, from Israeli settlers to Islamic fundamentalism, make such a solution very difficult. But in defense of the extremely unlikely proposition that a one-state solution can succeed, he offers numerous examples of outcomes once thought impossible that have come to pass, from a solution to the Irish situation to the fall of the Soviet Union.
In other words, Lustick does not really think a two-state solution impossible. Instead, he thinks that when confronted with a choice between two difficult ways forward, one should choose the one that results in the end of the State of Israel. Again, Lustick says out loud what his crowd thinks:
The disappearance of Israel as a Zionist project, through war, cultural exhaustion, or demographic momentum, is at least as plausible as a two state solution.
Lustick’s op-ed should be required reading for anyone who thinks that to stand with the anti-Israeli left is to support of the rights of Palestinians. To stand with the anti-Israeli left is instead to hope for an open conflict that will result in the end of Israel. It is not just friends of Israel who should be disgusted with academics who hope to foment such a conflict, knowing, unless they are complete fools, that in making a poorly thought out, long-odds bet on a one-state solution, they gamble with the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.