Turn right at the next junction: A response to Naomi Chazan

Naomi Chazan, a veteran Israeli politician, is a person I deeply respect and whose warnings and arguments are usually well-placed and well worth considering. That is why I am surprised at her heavily flawed recent op-ed, The right road to disaster.

For long, two-state proponents have relied on misrepresenting the views and motivations of their opponents to convince people that a two-state solution is the only possible way. This was never sustainable. Fighting against the total predominance of the two-state narrative, a serious intellectual attempt to design a workable annexiation-based solution is underway. To her credit, Chazan does link to a website which presents a cogent argument, though it has been a few years since this website was updated and the ideas have progressed immensely since then. Initiatives such as the political journal Sovereignty explore a variety of approaches.

The thrust of Chazan’s argument against this is that many are surprised by the annexationist position, claiming that it has no place in the 21st century. This is merely an appeal to incredulity. The fact that people need to adjust their tuners and see things from another perspective is not a valid argument against annexationism, and is all the more out of place considering Chazan’s political camp’s insistence that we hear the radical Palestinian narrative, despite its repugnancy to the liberal interlocutor.

Another keystone in Chazan’s piece is that the “international community” could never accept an annexation. Though this point is itself addressed in the annexationist narrative, I would like to pick up on an inherent flaw with this idea. If the solution itself were the most beneficial to Israelis and Palestinians, but could never be implemented due to opposition from the “international community”, doesn’t this suggest that the greatest obstacle to peace could actually be the international community?

This idea is, of course, anathema to the two-state camp, who lend great weight to the opinions of Israel’s supposed “friends” abroad. But it now seems as though the main force compelling a two-state solution is the threat of international condemnation, rather than a need to accommodate with Palestinians.

Besides, my experience has been otherwise. People I have spoken to, after hearing a non-straw-man version of the Greater Israel platform, have raised several significant and fair objections but have never found the plan overwhelmingly repulsive or distasteful — those willing to listen, that is. Most recognise the need for creative new thinking as the two-state solution (with its own moral injustices of ethnic cleansing and possibly placing more lives at risk) has repeatedly proven itself unworkable.

The suggestion that propagating these creative ideas provide fuel to fire of critics constitutes blaming the victim. The bigotry of BDS is bigotry regardless. Even if the vision of the annexationists were to be fulfilled, their obsessive hatred of Israel would remain illegitimate. Israel would still not be apartheid or anything of the sort.

Indeed, apart from the ideas of a few loons and closet Kahanists, the modern, secular annexationist position distinguishes itself by working entirely within the framework of universal civil rights and liberty. The only remaining serious gripe they must contend with is the allegation that they permanently deprive the Palestinian nation the right to self-determination. But the Wilsonian idea of self-determination, supposedly upheld by the UN, has only ever been applied selectively.

Moreover, the Greater Israel enthusiasts have a strong legal basis (encapsulated in the Levy Report) to claim sole ownership of collective (as opposed to individual) political rights in the Land of Israel; while the Palestinians have a strong legal and cultural basis to demand self-determination in Jordan and express their nationhood there. It is their own misfortune that their narrative requires them to focus all their energies on taking from Israel, to the neglect of their legitimate grievances against the neighbouring Arab states, and to the neglect of their 5 million compatriots who live therein in a constant state of transience, heavily deprived of civil rights.

To conclude, why must Israel continue with this facade, imposed by close-minded foreign powers? The annexations’ solutions are by no means perfect, but neither was the two-state solution in its early days; it was moulded and refined until it became an acceptable, mainstream idea. The bold ideas of today must not be dismissed as extreme merely for their lack of mainstream support.

About the Author
Zerubbavel Baghdadi grew up in North-West London and is still stuck there, but now has a cat for company. He hopes to make Aliyah soon but in the meantime has a few things to get off his chest.