Israel Palestine Infos
May 8, 2010.
I ADMIRE Prof. John Mearsheimer. His rigorous logic. His lucid presentation. His rare moral courage.
I was very honored to host him and his colleague, Prof. Stephen Walt, in Tel
Aviv, after their book about the
And I don’t agree with his conclusions.
A FEW days ago, Prof. Mearsheimer delivered an impressive lecture in
The professor himself sums up his conclusions as follows:
“Contrary to the wishes of the Obama administration and most Americans – to
include many American Jews –
WHY DOES the professor believe that the two-state solution has become a fantasy?
Because, in his opinion, most Israelis are not ready to make the “sacrifices”
necessary for its implementation. The 480 thousand settlers in the West Bank and
No salvation will come from Barack Obama. The immensely powerful pro-Israel
lobby will crush any attempt of his to exert pressure on
The professor does not hide his opinion that the two-state solution is by far
the best. But he believes that it is “dead”.
THIS IS a frightening prognosis. It is also very logical. If current developments continue in a straight line, this is exactly what will happen.
But I do not believe in straight lines. There are very few straight lines in nature, and there are no straight lines in the life of nations and states.
In the 86 years of my life, innumerable unforeseen things have happened, and innumerable expected things have not come about. The fate of nations is governed by unexpected factors. They are shaped by human beings, who are by nature unpredictable creatures.
Who foresaw in 1928 that Adolf Hitler would come to power in
Of course, one cannot build plans on the unexpected. But it should be taken into account. It is irrational to discount the irrational.
I do not accept the professor’s judgment that “most Israelis are opposed to
making the sacrifices that would be necessary to create a viable Palestinian
state.” As an Israeli living and fighting in
The real problem is that most Israelis do not believe that peace is possible. Dozens of years of propaganda have convinced them that “we have no partner for peace”. Events on the ground (as seen through Israeli eyes) have confirmed this view. If this perception is dissolved, everything is possible.
In this, President Obama could play a big role. I believe that this is his real
mission: to prove that it is possible. That there is a partner out there. That
there is a guarantee for the security of
CAN THE settlements be removed? Will there ever be an Israeli government that will have the guts to do so? Where is the leader who will undertake this Herculean task?
The professor is right that “there is nobody with that kind of standing in Israeli politics today.” And that “there is no sizable pro-peace party or movement.”
Yet history shows that exceptional leaders often appear when they are needed. I
have seen in my own lifetime a failed and generally detested politician called
Winston Churchill become a national hero. And a reactionary general called
Charles de Gaulle liberate
I have also seen a brutal general called Ariel Sharon, the father of the settlements, destroying a series of settlements. His intentions may be debatable, but the facts cannot be disputed: he challenged the settlers’ movement – which Prof. Mearsheimer describes in all its fearful menace – and won easily. In face of the total opposition of the settlers and their allies, he evacuated some twenty settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Not a single military unit mutinied. Not a single person was killed or seriously injured.
Sure, there is a quantitative and qualitative difference between
If a peace agreement is achieved, it will be necessary to approach the
evacuation job with determination, but also with finesse. For the inhabitants of
the East Jerusalem neighborhoods, a solution will be found in the framework of
the agreement about
THE TWO-STATE solution is not the best solution. It is the only solution.
The alternative is not a democratic, secular bi-national state, because such a state will not come into being. Neither people wants it.
As the professor rightly maintains, in the absence of peace,
Except for a tiny group of dreamers, who can be gathered in a medium-sized room, there are no Israelis who dream of living in a bi-national state, in which the Arabs constitute the majority. If such a state came into being, Israeli Jews would just emigrate. But it is much more plausible that the reverse would happen: the Palestinians would emigrate long before that.
Ethnic cleansing does not have to take the form of a dramatic expulsion, as in 1948. It can take place quietly, in a creeping process, when more and more Palestinians simply give up. That is the great dream of the settlers and their partners: to make life for the Palestinians so miserable that they take their families and leave.
Either way, life in this country will turn into hell. Not for one year, but for dozens of years. Both sides will be violent. The idea of Palestinian “non-violent resistance” is a pipe-dream. The professor’s hope that in the putative bi-national state, the Palestinians would not treat the Jews as the Jews are treating them now has been disproved by the Jews themselves – the persecution they have suffered throughout the ages has not inoculated them against becoming persecutors themselves.
THERE IS a gap in the professor’s analysis: he does not explain how the violent Israeli apartheid state will “develop” into an ideal bi-national state. In his opinion, this will come about “eventually”, after “some years”. How many”? And how?
OK, there will be pressures. World public opinion will turn against
Any comparison with
(To mention just one: the apartheid regime was finally brought down not by
international pressure, but by the massive and crippling strikes of the black
work force. In this country, the occupation authorities do everything to prevent
Palestinians from coming to work in
In the end, it is a matter of logic: if international pressure does not succeed in convincing the Israelis to accept the two-state solution, which does no harm to their national identity, how will it compel them to give up everything they have – their state, their identity, their culture, their economy, all they have built in a huge endeavor of 120 years?
Is it not much more plausible to assume that long before their state collapses under all the pressures, Israelis would embrace the two-state solution?
I COMPLETELY agree with the professor: the main obstacle to peace is psychological. What is needed is a profound change of perceptions, before the Israeli public can be brought to recognize reality and accept peace, with all it entails.
That is the main task facing the Israeli peace camp: to change the basic
perceptions of the public. I am certain that this is possible. We have already
traveled a long road from the days of “There are no Palestinians!” and “
An apartheid state or a bi-national state? Neither. But the free State of Palestine side by side with the free State of Israel, in the common homeland.