Note: For those who do not subscribe to the NYT, I’m reprinting Tom Friedman’s op-ed from May 25 here.
For what it’s worth, I agree wholeheartedly with Friedman’s dire assessment. He does not mention Hamas and Gaza directly for good reason. Hamas’ long-term mission is simple, to destroy Israel and sacrifice its own people (children and everyone else) to this end. Israel has no one to talk to in Hamas and, frankly, never did. But there is still a possibility of partnership with the PA, though (as Friedman notes) there will be no progress towards a two-state solution as long as Bibi is PM. I’m not a doomsayer, never was, but I realize I’m sounding more and more like one not because I’m getting older but because the situation is getting worse!
Here is Friedman’s piece:
“Lord knows, I sympathize with President Biden’s desire to avoid getting dragged into mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas made something crystal clear to me: Unless we preserve at least the potential of a two-state solution, the one-state reality that would emerge in its place won’t just blow up Israel, the West Bank and Gaza; it could very well blow up the Democratic Party and every Jewish organization and synagogue in America.Yes, that’s what I learned last week.
I don’t expect Biden to summon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Camp David. As long as both are in power, no serious compromise is possible. But it is vital that Biden urgently take steps to re-energize the possibility of a two-state solution and give it at least some concrete diplomatic manifestation on the ground.
Because without that horizon — without any viable hope of separating Israelis and Palestinians into two states for two peoples — the only outcome left will be one state in which the Israeli majority dominates and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank will be systematically deprived of equal rights so that Israel can preserve its Jewish character.
If that happens, the charge that Israel has become an apartheid-like entity will resonate and gain traction far and wide. The Democratic Party will be fractured. A rising chorus of progressives — who increasingly portray the Israeli army’s treatment of Palestinians as equivalent to the Minneapolis Police Department’s treatment of Black people or to the treatment by colonial powers of Indigenous peoples — will insist on distancing the United States from Israel and, maybe, even lead to bans on arms sales.Meanwhile, centrist Democrats will push back that these progressives are incredibly naïve, that they have no clue how many two-state peace plans the Palestinians have already rejected — which decimated the Israeli peace camp — and that none of their causes, from women’s rights to L.G.B.T.Q. rights to religious pluralism, would last a minute on the Hamas-run campus of the Islamic University of Gaza.
As the past two weeks demonstrated, every Jewish organization and synagogue in America will be heatedly divided over this question: Are you willing to defend a one-state Israel that is not even pretending to be a democracy anymore, a one-state Israel whose leaders prefer to rely on the uncritical support of evangelicals than the critical support of Jews?
Finally, Jewish and non-Jewish students on every college campus also will be forced to wrestle with this question or run as far away as possible from the debate. More and more will abandon Israel. You can already see it happening. And anti-Semitism will flourish under the guise of anti-Zionism.
It will get very ugly. All nuance will be lost. Twitter and Facebook will become battlefields between Israel’s critics and defenders, and Donald Trump and the Republicans will fan the flames, telling American Jews that they have no future in the Democratic Party and beckoning them to come over to the G.O.P. — which, with its evangelical base, does indeed unquestioningly support the Jewish state … for now.
“People need to understand that this issue has been transformed in the past two weeks,’’ said Gidi Grinstein, the president of the Reut Group, a leading Israeli think tank. “The place of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict inside American society and politics — and inside the Jewish community — has morphed from a bipartisan issue to a wedge issue.’’And it is a wedge issue now not only between Democrats and Republicans, he added, “but also between Democrats and Democrats. This is very bad news for Israel and for the Jewish people. Israel and Biden must urgently collaborate to defuse it.’’
Therefore, I hope that when the secretary of state, Tony Blinken, meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week, he conveys a very clear message: “From this day forward, we will be treating the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as a Palestinian state in the making, and we will be taking a series of diplomatic steps to concretize Palestinian statehood in order to preserve the viability of a two-state solution. We respect both of your concerns, but we are determined to move forward because the preservation of a two-state solution now is not only about yournational security interests; it is about our national security interests in the Middle East. And it is about the political future of the centrist faction of the Democratic Party. So we all need to get this right.’’