I continue to read with increasing sadness the charged discussion in the American Jewish community provoked by Peter Beinart’s long essay in Jewish Currents and much shorter op-ed in the NYTimes in which he explains why he believes that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead and why he now advocates for a one-state solution to this seemingly intractable conflict.

See Peter’s essay in Jewish Currents at https://jewishcurrents.org/yavne-a-jewish-case-for-equality-in-israel-palestine/ and his op-ed in the NYTimeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/opinion/israel-annexation-two-state-solution.html

Many have written thoughtful and persuasive rebuttals to Peter’s ideas in the American and Israeli press. Most recently, Middle East experts Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, who had senior roles in past U.S. government efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, wrote for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy why they believe, contrary to Peter’s position, that the two-state solution remains viable and is essential for Israeli-Palestinian peace – “Don’t Give Up on the Two-State Solution” (July 14, 2020) – https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/dont-give-up-on-the-two-state-solution. I recommend their piece most especially. I agree with them.

I add as a warning only the words of the late Israeli writer and peace activist Amos Oz who, in his last book Dear Zealots – Letters from a Divided Land (New York: Mariner Books, 2019) wrote:

 “Apart from Switzerland, all bi-national and multinational states are either barely squeaking by (Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain) or have already deteriorated into violent conflict (Lebanon, Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia and the USSR). There’s no successful historical model of two people’s living side by side in one state, especially in the Middle East… 

“There must be compromise between Israel and Palestine. There must be two states. We must divide this land and turn it into a duplex.

On both sides there are many people who loathe the very idea of compromise, viewing any concession as weakness, as pitiful surrender. Whereas I think that in the lives of families, neighbors, and nations, choosing to compromise is in fact choosing life. The opposite of compromise is not pride or integrity or idealism. The opposite of compromise is fanaticism and death…” 

Indeed, any action taken unilaterally by Israel (e.g. building and expanding more West Bank settlements, annexing portions of the West Bank, confiscating privately owned Palestinian land, destroying “illegal Palestinian homes,” intensifying the military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank) or by the Palestinians (e.g. cancelling security agreements with Israel, initiating violence against Israelis, declaring an independent state outside of bi-lateral negotiations) that makes a two-state solution more difficult to achieve ought to be condemned by all who support both a secure Jewish and democratic State of Israel and the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people to a state of their own peacefully existing alongside Israel.

I hope and pray that a President Joe Biden and a reconstituted American State Department will bring the Israelis and Palestinians back into good-faith negotiations to assure Israeli and Palestinian security, justice, human rights, national dignity and sovereignty to the Palestinians, and peace between our two peoples.