In theory, there would be a lot to agree with in Shaul Magid’s recent Tablet’s piece about the actual non-viability of the “two-state solution”, and he at times does a credible job of recounting some of the historical factors related to the Holocaust that were crucial in the State’s creation. I certainly hope that he’s right when he says that “the longer liberal Zionists hang on to a two-state paradigm that no longer exists—that hasn’t existed for a long time—the more those on the right get to define the parameters of the one state that exists.”
This is in no small part because much of what Magid sources gives the game away, and with a particularly odious twist (however subtle) to boot: the claim that a binational state “between the river and the sea” is the only legitimate polity formulation, and that the trauma of the Holocaust, in fact, should have precluded Jews from ever creating their own state; he just hides behind Hannah Arendt to do it. Contra Magid, Arendt really had no “quite reasonable concerns” about what would happen to Jews or Israel: consider that Arendt’s Judeomisia—mostly ignored during her lifetime, even if already evident in her dispatches from Jerusalem during the Eichmann trial—has been recently more revealed in all its depth. (Maybe she couldn’t help but remember all her romantic assignations with Martin Heidegger.)
Then Magid says, pace Ian Lustick, “crushing defeats post-1967 did result in breaking the extremist position of the Palestinian street somewhat.” He deliberately ignores the three No’s of Khartoum that ensued only two months later, the Yom Kippur war which was launched with Judeocidal intent, and the long history of rejectionism and terrorism pre-and post-Oslo. Never mind that Lustick’s anti-Zionist proclivities are a matter of public record; the notion that “victories produced expansionism, not the generosity based on strength” is a double lie: there was ceratinly no “expansionism” after the 1948 war, and why should a the target of a genocidal offensive ever feel the need to be magnanimous?
Magid complains, again pace Lustick, that “in “Holocaustia,” two states never really had a chance.” True or not, it is almost completely irrelevant, and, it further reveals the revisionism: ignoring how the 1920 San Remo conference split Jewish Palestine once, the 1937 Peel Commission split it another time, and the 1947 Lake Success vote was itself predicated on a prototypical “two-states for two peoples”, accepted by the Zionists, who then fought a defensive war to keep their half against a genocidal consortium of armies aiming to deny them any of it, while massacring as many of them as possible as a side benefit (cf. the Mufti of Jerusalem, 1947: “I declare a Holy War! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!”)
There are other related lies, now unfortunately established truisms, that need to be demolished for good.
The first is that there should be any parallels drawn between the national liberation narratives of the Jews and Palestinians. There never was; to claim there is the worst hybrid of historical revisionism and cultural appropriation; and Jews at the forefront of drawing those analogs on behalf of the PA/PLO are engaged in abject quislingery, in effect if not in intent (and all too often, they are very clear about said intent.)
The second arises Magid’s sneak claim that “there is no one-state solution; but there is, from the river to the sea, one state.” Magid might be taking a page from the harder right-wing who wish that the Gaza disengagement never happened, but it did, and Gaza is now absolutely Judenrein, with the exception of the occasional kidnaped Jewish “guests”. So de facto, there are already two states: Israel, and the Hamastan in Gaza. As far as the “Palestinina population bomb”, that was always a polemic that had little to do with actual statistical models and everything to do with propaganda wars. The 2005 Gaza disengagement should have put an end to that lie, but as the founding father of Palestinian nationalism and terrorism was known to say, “I would kill for my cause; why would I not lie for it?”; it was clearly too much to expect the lying to stop.
The third falsehood: that somehow Palestinian nationalism demands a viable unitary political entity comprised of two geographically disparate promontories (recall how well East and West Pakistan worked), and that it is Israel’s responsibility to help create and nourish this “state” hostile to its existence (not to mention the existence of its citizens). This “pivot” to “Two states for two peoples” from “From the river to the sea”—is already itself a lie based on political exigencies; it certainly wasn’t the mission of Palestinian nationalism from 1964 until Oslo, and it probably hasn’t changed since; there’s no reason to grant either version legitimacy. Gaza is one state, on its own, and should stay that way; blaming the Jews for topography might be another weapon in the antisemitic arsenal, but that doesn’t make it any more the truth. Let’s be triply blunt here: the Palestinian national narrative has no legitimate parallel with the Zionist one, much less a legitimate claim to the unitary entity across both territories, even much less as a supersessionist “binational” state. To again quote their founding father back at them: “If they don’t like it, they can drink from the Dead Sea.”
Which brings us to the most odious, and frankly Goebbelsian, falsehood: the “apartheid” trope. The true apartheid state in this case is Jordan, which is already 70 percent Palestinian. Jordan should not have been allowed to so easily divest itself from the responsibility for the West Bank in 1987: any “peace deal” between Israel and the Palestinian population in the West Bank should have involved some concessions on the part of Jordan as to there care, feeding, protection and civil rights of the residents there, at Jordan’s expense. Certainly not Israel: in 1967 they were forced to fight on the Jordanian front when King Hussein attached his troops to the UAR and thought the Israelis wouldn’t notice. If anything is to be done that leads to the Israelis relinquishing control of any part of the West Bank, is should involve a split with Jordan whereby the “two peoples” are split, Jews to Israel and Palestinians to Jordan. Let the Palestinians then contend with the Jordanians for self-determination. The fact that Israel is held responsible for the legitimation of Palestinian national aspirations and Jordan is not presents a blatantly antisemitic double standard.
Finally, Magid then tries to obfuscate his sympathies: after lamenting “[t]here is no one-state solution; but there is, from the river to the sea, one state”, he adds “and that state is called Israel”, but there is no reason to give the benefit of doubt that he prays for its continued existence as a viable Jewish state. It is not a statement of “fact on the ground” realities that the W Bush administration tried to establish for Israel’s benefit in 2004, which the Obama White House and Clinton State Department then pretended didn’t exist: rather, like his allies Lustick, Tom Segev, and Rashid Khalidi (with a sotto voce shoutout to Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer as he tries to whitewash what some consider to be the most successful antisemitic publication in the US since the Dearborn Independent), the preferable outcome seems to be an Israel peacefully dismantling itself, consequences be damned. At least the quislings in JVP, INN, Code Pink and NK are open about what they want to happen to the Jewish state. Magid should follow the advice of Elijah the Prophet at Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18:21): “How long will you keep hopping between two opinions? If Israel, follow them, if the Palestinians, follow them!”
In other words: stop lying about whose side you’re on.