A great Palestinian, a Palestinian Mandela could offer Israel a secure existence in one state, but even a Palestinian Mandela could not offer Israel that the Palestinians would accept being consigned to cantons without connection to the outside world except through Israel and demilitarized except for a small Israel-approved police force. A great Israeli, an Israeli DeKlerk could offer Palestinians equality even in greater numbers than Jews, but could not offer an independent sovereign neighboring state full of people who resent their relatively recent dispossession.
A two-state solution cannot happen. Nobody has yet put together a plan that is acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis because such a plan cannot exist. Israeli security and the independence of the people who were dispossessed by Israel, while continuing that dispossession, are mutually exclusive ideas.
Interestingly, two different currents of two-statism are forming. Naive two-statism, held by Western liberal supporters of Zionism, and cynical two-statism which I learned of recently through Helena Cobban's website and which is implied by Michael Totten through Totten's exposure to, according to Totten, a preponderance of unnamed Israelis.
Naive two-statism is exemplified by the dreams of a two-state solution held by Juan Cole and Helena Cobban. Neither of them can produce, have ever seen or could specifically imagine a plan that they believe would be acceptable to both Palestinians and Israelis. Yet they cling to the idea that a little more negotiation will produce such a plan.
Naive two-statism is a failure of imagination more than a moral failure. Naive two-statists have accepted the idea that there, in some cosmic sense, "should" exist a Jewish state - not for reasons that could withstand close scrutiny, not for reasons they'd attempt to put to words, but because that's what the people they've grown around have accepted without question thus far in their intellectual growth.
That there may not be a Jewish state in Palestine is an uncomfortable idea for them. For one thing, they would not want to oppose views held with great emotional intensity by Jewish colleagues that they both respect and want to get along with. The accusation of anti-Semitism is reflexively and sincerely invoked against any idea that makes a Jewish person feel uncomfortable as a Jew, even if the triggering idea does not involve anti-Jewish sentiment. This idea - that Jews could be outvoted by non-Jews in Israel - automatically, reflexively and sincerely, though wrongly, triggers accusations of anti-Semitism from Jewish supporters of Israel.
It is an idea that many liberal Westerners have taught themselves to avoid. Many have even acquired an ability to avoid the idea of a world without a Jewish state without consciously realizing it.
I guess here I can say that Jew and Zionist are not synonymous, but they are not fully independent concepts either. Many, probably most, Jews feel an attachment to Zionism that transcends the rational. This is not meant as an indictment. Many, probably most, African Americans feel an attachment to Black South Africans that is greater than they "should" feel by some race-neutral measure. Many, probably most Arabs and most Muslims feel an attachment to the Palestinians that is greater than they "should" feel.
And to go a little further off course, I may have raised the question of what happens when everybody is biased. Mandela is biased towards Blacks. Botha, Reagan and Thatcher are biased towards Whites. Maybe nobody is right. But no, somebody is right. The side calling for one-person one-vote is right. And if Blacks deny political representation to Whites in South Africa because of race, then the advocates of White people in that case will be right.
Back to naive two-statism. Cobban and Cole are not Jewish though. Their naive two-statism does not spring directly from their emotional attachment to Zionism but from having grown intellectually in an environment that has been disproportionally Jewish. An environment where anti-Zionism automatically triggers accusations of anti-Semitism. Many Jewish liberals, probably most, also engage this naive two statism for their own emotional reasons.
The practical sense of naive two-statism on the part of Westerners, is that it provides moral cover for the continuation of a morally unacceptable situation. The United States is aiding Hosni Mubarak in keeping 80 million Egyptians under an authoritarian dictatorship. This should be violently contrary to US ideals, but if an agreement is right around the corner, this is a short term sacrifice that will lead to everyone in the region accepting Israel, and so is worth it. It is not defensible if it is what it truly is, a situation that must continue indefinitely if the 6 or so million Jews of Israel are to be securely safe from being outvoted by Palestinians. There are many examples where in the Western liberal mind, the costs of Zionism are mitigated by the untrue but naively held idea that peace is a few negotiations away.
But cynical two-statism. This is a concept that is newer for me. In a comment at Cobban's blog, Michael Totten left:
The American Jewish Committee brought me and seven of my colleagues to Israel and set up interviews with Israeli military officers, politicians, academics, and journalists on the far-left, the far-right and at every point in between. One of my colleagues asked the eternal question during one of our meetings. “What is the solution to this problem?” He meant the Arab-Israeli conflict, of course, and the answer from our Israeli host was revealing in more ways than one. “You Americans are always asking us that,” he said and laughed darkly.From Totten's point of view, moral deficiencies of the Palestinians are the reason a two-state solution is impossible for the forseeable future. Totten has a right to interpret things that way if he chooses. No group of people on Earth in the Palestinian's situation would accept what Israel offers but if it comforts Totten to believe the Palestinians are morally subhuman in some way, who can stop him from believing that?
Americans aren't the only ones who have a hard time grasping the idea of an intractable problem. “Unfortunately we Westerners are impatient,” said an Israeli politician who preferred not to be named. “We want fast food and peace now. But it won't happen. We need a long strategy.” “Most of Israel's serious problems don't have a solution,” said Dr. Dan Schueftan, Director of National Security Studies at the University of Haifa. “Israelis have only recently understood this, and most foreign analysts still don't understand it.”
But regardless of the reasons - I consider them reasonable, Totten considers them immoral - if no two state solution is available, then the remaining alternatives are the status quo or a one-state solution. In this case, opponents of a one-state solution, which Zionists who do not call for mass expulsions or apartheid must be by definition, must either present that the status quo is the best possible arrangement, or cynically allow naive two-statists to continue believing a solution is available while understanding that one is not.
How widely have Israelis come to understand that there are no prospects for a two-state solution - regardless of where they assign the blame?
If Peres has reached the conclusion that two states cannot be reached, or Livni or Olmert, then they are now cynical two-statists. They understand the importance of the ability of naive two-statists to pretend the status quo is temporary and go along with the idea to manipulate those who would not deliberately support the indefinite continuation of the status quo.
I don't know for sure if Peres is a naive or cynical two-statist. Totten is neither a naive or cynical two-statist, he is an advocate of the indefinite continuation of the status quo. Lieberman is an advocate of expulsion. Both are unacceptable to Western sensibilities. I expect that some two-statists, aware that there is no alternative to two-states that is both acceptable to Zionism and to Western sensibilities, have decided to cynically pretend that two states are possible while aware that they are not.