I still like Barak Obama and want him to succeed. I voted for him twice, Campaigned and donated money to make sure he was elected. I remember the moment I fell in love with him. It was during the first campaign for president when he gave these wonderful speeches which truly gave me a sense of hope. I felt he was a straight shooter a wise man who tells you things the way they are. I had a sense that he was trying to get to the bottom of issues based on objective analysis without fear of political implications that he would make his decisions based on Science and not on politics that he would inspire our nation to think freshly and boldly.
To my dismay when it comes to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict, Barak Obama chooses stagnation over innovation. He lacks imagination and chooses a photo copy machine to duplicate previous failed policies.
If I could, I would sue him for Presidential Malpractice. Why? Because he insists on the Two States Solution as the ONLY solution, knowing that it failed before. The first rule one learns in Medical School is “do no harm”. Medical malpractice is usually broadly defined as conduct “below the standard of care”. When a doctor knows that he is about to subject his patient to a procedure which consistently failed and nevertheless does it, he acts below the standard of care and is guilty of malpractice. Mr. Obama is acting below the standard of care and is about to do harm.
Since when does the principle that America is a land of opportunities fulfilled by considering only one option? Particularly, when that option has failed. Especially when that option is the ONLY option that failed. The President ran on the platform of “hope and Change “and “Yes we can “. However, when it comes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict advocating ONE option for peace is like running on the platform of “No hope and no change “ and “No we cannot” .
Every time our leaders sit down with a map dividing the real estate of Israel and Palestine, someone always makes sure that the level of violence and terror will increase so much that any plan of dividing the land will be derailed. They eventually succeed in derailing the negotiations.
The two-state solution is not a peace plan. It is a division-of-real estate plan. It is a divorce plan. It does not enhance cooperation, dialogue and interaction between the peoples of Israel and Palestine. It does not teach tolerance and understanding. It does not encourage cooperation and engagement. It does just the opposite. It enforces a false need to separate the two. It validates and perpetuates a dangerous notion that the Israelis and Palestinians are so different from each other and so diametrically opposed to each other that they cannot live together and must be separated. Instead of encouraging the parties to engage and solve their differences, the two-state solution pretends that once they are separated, all will be well.
If the Palestinians and the Israelis are separated there will be fewer common threads between the two peoples. There will be less dialogue and fewer attempts to establish mutual formulas and mechanisms to resolve issues. The alternative of “solving” issues through war will become more likely. Israelis and Palestinians who want peace will find it even more difficult to connect with each other and will be increasingly isolated in their own societies. The lubricants of peace will diminish. Isolation of the two societies will perpetuate suspicion, stereotyping and animosity.
The two-state solution is a solution between governments, not people. If such a solution becomes a reality, it will enhance the power of the governments and reduce the power of their people to demand peace.
The two-state solution is a mechanical solution. It ignores the historical connection of both peoples to the land and requires the artificial pretense that they now belong to only a portion of that land. It ignores the huge economic connections Israelis and Palestinians have with each other on a day-to-day basis in terms of commerce, roads and utility grids. It ignores the fact that Israelis and Palestinians are interwoven with each other and have families on both sides of the two states. It ignores the reality that the area itself is so tiny that dividing it into two states is an impossibility.
Toward the last months of his administration, President Clinton made a huge personal commitment and used every means at his disposal to convince the Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement through a two-state solution. Despite his intense efforts and personal charm, coupled with the full power and strength of the U.S. government, the negotiations ended in failure. As Dennis Ross wrote in his 2004 book The Missing Peace, President Clinton’s proposal appeared reasonable to any objective observer. It was later disclosed that it was Yasser Arafat who rejected the deal, but it is not completely clear that Barak accepted it nor that the Israeli government and its Parliament would have approved it. Where exactly did President Clinton not try hard enough? What land was forgotten in those negotiations? It became abundantly clear in those negotiations that having those leaders sit together with a map and a pencil dividing towns, streets and mountain ranges does not suffice and may even be counterproductive. If anything, the two-state solution is even less likely now since both the Israelis and the Palestinians are retreating from the end point of those negotiations.
Barak Obama seems to be making the same mistake. He is reducing the conflict to a single dimension, which is the division of real estate. It is astonishing that despite the decreased chances for a two-state solution, he does not pursue other innovative solutions, such as a confederation. Even if Obama decides to exert pressure on the parties, the most he will be able to reach is an agreement. He will not be able to dictate peace. Obama should be advocating peace. Should Obama admit that the previous plans for a two-state solution failed, the U.S status in the region will not suffer but rather, enhanced. Should Obama accept the idea that there are other means to forge peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, its relationship with them will remain intact and probably even strengthen. Should the U.S. agree to open up the process of peace and refrain from limiting itself to a single solution, it will be viewed as an honest and sincere broker. In the long run, the U.S. will have better relationships within the region if it advocates the notion that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians can come from them alone.
The two-state solution is an “all or nothing” approach. The premise of this approach is that until the parties agree on the division of land between them, the status quo remains the same. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results—is quite fitting in this context.