Friday, December 07, 2012

Only More So

There are some people who think a two-state solution is out of reach. I myself have varying degrees of cynicism about it. This mapping tool made me feel optimistic Other times, I feel pessimistic. My mood swings.

But the thing is, no matter how cynical I get about a two-state solution, I never become less cynical about one-state. That's because they're joined at the hip -- essentially all the barriers and problems and obstacles that make a two-state solution elusive, also make a one-state solution impossible. Whether you fault Israeli intransigence or Palestinian maximalism, settlement expansion or "right of return", price tag militants or Hamas rocketry, the same problems in mostly the same form also poison the one-state well.
Gershom Gorenberg, in his new book, “The Unmaking of Israel,” a jeremiad directed at the Jewish settlement movement, writes at length about the absurdity at the heart of the proposal.

“Palestinians will demand the return of property lost in 1948 and perhaps the rebuilding of destroyed villages. Except for the drawing of borders, virtually every question that bedevils Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will become a domestic problem setting the new political entity aflame.”

Gorenberg predicts that Israelis of means would flee this new state, leaving it economically crippled. “Financing development in majority-Palestinian areas and bringing Palestinians into Israel’s social welfare network would require Jews to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services. But the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry. Both individuals and companies will leave.”

In the best case, this new dystopia by the sea would be paralyzed by endless argument: “Two nationalities who have desperately sought a political frame for cultural and social independence would wrestle over control of language, art, street names, and schools.” In the worst case, Gorenberg writes, political tensions “would ignite as violence.”
In the worst, worst case, said violence will turn into a regional nuclear war.

When one listen's to one-staters, there is often lip service to the claim that they simply think a two-state solution is "dead" (for whatever reason). What's left unsaid is how that brings a one-state solution to life. The reason why that analysis is missing is because the pragmatics aren't actually doing any of the work. One-staters support one-state not because it's more feasible than two-states, but because they think it is normatively superior to two-states. A world in which there are zero majority-Jewish states is qualitatively better than one in which there is one majority-Jewish state.