Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Hussein Ibish, recently wrote a guest op-ed for Informed Comment in which he argues that one state is impossible and Israel feels some great pressure that makes it inevitable that it will after a lot of work accept a fair two-state solution.
Put simply, an argument that a one state solution is impossible that does not present a significant and relevant difference between the Israeli situation and the situation in South Africa in 1975 or 1985 need not be considered seriously.
Ibish, as far as I understand his argument, bases his assertion entirely or nearly entirely on the idea that both Jews and Palestinians have been fighting for many years without either side giving up the dream of a homeland. Of course the same could have been said, all the way up until Mandela was freed, about the Afrikaaners and the Black people of South Africa.
But one difference that is elsewhere commonly pointed out between Israel and South Africa that does deserve discussion is the idea that Israel's supporters are so well integrated into the West, especially into the United States, that the loss of US support, which was necessary to end Apartheid, cannot happen in the case of Zionism.
It is a fair argument, I would make two responses. The first, and weaker one, is that both Jews and evangelical bible-literalists are distinct minorities in US politics. Americans who would rather save the money it costs to support Israel outnumber those for whom propping up Israel as a Jewish state is a particularly high priority, if the costs of propping up Israel as a Jewish state are presented to them.
The most important reason that this is the weaker argument is that Arab leaders who call for designating the current sovereignty-less reservations that Palestinians live in as a state concede the continuation of Israel as a Jewish state in doing so. Recently the United States literally ordered its selected Palestinian leader to refrain from withdrawing that concession, and he followed that order. As long as the United States and Israel are able to select the leadership of the Palestinian people, they will always select leaders who do not even verbally challenge the idea that there should be a Jewish state, which means there can be no one state solution.
The second response though, is that while the Arab states are nauseatingly pathetic, there was no competitor to South Africa remotely as powerful as Iran. The United States will find its rivalry with Iran, and possibly even Turkey to an increasing degree, for as long as it continues to prop up Israel. This support will only become more expensive as Israel's rivals become more resourceful.
The position in which the United States found itself in 1945, with the industrial bases of the rest of the world heavily damaged and where it had a surplus of power that it could expend even on vanity projects such as ensuring that favored ethnic groups could maintain dominance despite the objections of every surrounding population group, has been declining since then. It is clear that even the relative power of the US today is unsustainable though it is much less than the relative power the US enjoyed in the post-WWII period.
Iran, Syria, probably Iraq and there is a good chance Turkey also will combine to make US resistance to a one-state solution more expensive over time, until it reaches the point that the US is no longer willing or able to tolerate the expense.
When? I'm a little surprised the US is still willing to bear the expense it is bearing. The United States really cannot afford to have 200,000 troops in the Middle East attempting to ensure that resources are denied to rivals of Israel. Americans largely do not understand that is what its troops are doing. I'm fairly sure there will be a fast transition from US support for Israel as opposed to one non-ethnic state seeming unbreakable to it seeming unimaginable, as it was in the case of South Africa.
Posted by Arnold Evans at 6:41 PM