By Lisa Goldman and Dahlia Scheindlin
(This article has been updated. See the addendum below.)
In a recent New York Times op-ed, a prominent American academic posits that the time for implementing a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is now past. Ian Lustick, a professor of comparative politics at University of Pennsylvania, argues that after 20 years of failed negotiations, the two-state paradigm is a proven failure. The Americans, Palestinian Authority and Israeli government cling to what he calls the “two state illusion” out of vested interests that have nothing to do with the facts on the ground. It is time, he writes, to explore other options.
The article generated a predictable and tedious flurry of dramatic reactions from left and right, as if Lustick’s grand thesis were new. It is not, and neither are the clichéd (and hysterical) responses.
It seems that the talk of one state for Israelis and Palestinians is causing a stir now for two reasons—because the New York Times is a mainstream liberal media outlet; and because mainstream Israeli and non-Israeli Jews are now discussing it seriously.
But the idea of one state for Israelis and Palestinians has not been radical for quite some time now. As Mairav Zonszein documents in a post for +972, Members of Knesset from across the political spectrum have turned away from two-state rhetoric, including former Knesset Speakers Reuven Rivlin (Likud), and Avraham Burg from the left (a former Labor MK and Chairman of the Jewish Agency). Today, these two men agree with far-right politician Danny Danon and Likud hard-liner Tzipi Hotovely that the two-state solution is no longer possible (and for the Right, it never was desirable). Meanwhile, Tel Aviv University’s Yehouda Shenhav, a Leftist who recently published Beyond the Two State Solution, insists that exploring alternatives to two states is Israel’s “moral obligation.”
In the United States, liberal Jewish supporters of a two-state solution responded to Lustick’s op-ed as if it were a betrayal, perhaps because he is “one of their own” — a former chairman of the Association for Israel Studies, which he helped found partly to counter anti-Israel bias in Middle East studies. Meanwhile, the Right simply lumped him together with all the “depraved anti-Israel” left-wingers, because it views the Left’s version of...Read More