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March 20, 2013 1:31 am

Stop Using the Inaccurate Term “Two State Solution”

avatar by Morton A. Klein and Daniel Mandel

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Late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stands with American film director Steven Spielberg (right) on Sept. 16, 1994. Photo: Moshe Shai/FLASH90.

Prior to President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, he, Secretary of State John Kerry and others reiterated their commitment to a “two-state solution.”  We strongly oppose the use of this term – and not for political reasons.

One should stop using this term even if one believes that establishing a Palestinian state is necessary to secure a final resolution and peace. The phrase should be dropped as a major misnomer, because it is inaccurate and false.

This term “two-state solution” falsely implies – even claims – that Israel is not yet a state, that it is not a sovereign, independent, UN-sanctioned state until and unless a Palestinian state comes into being alongside it. If this were not the implication, why would anyone be promoting the term “two-state solution”?

It also falsely implies that both sides are getting the same thing. Yet Israel is already a state and its legitimacy stands independent of whatever political solution might one day emerge.

Before 1948, the year the Israeli state was established, one could reasonably and accurately speak of a two-state solution, because that is what was being proposed – a state for Jews and a 23rd state for Arabs. Today, only a Palestinian state is being proposed and those advocating it should therefore call it the “Palestinian state solution.” But this too is fraught with problems, inasmuch as a Palestinian state under prevailing conditions would not bring peace and therefore provides no “solution.”

Quite the contrary: Palestinians have rejected establishing a Palestinian state in the context of accepting a Jewish state on each and every occasion it has been proposed. In 1937 the Peel Commission offered the Palestinian Arabs 95% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – the other 5% would comprise a Jewish state. The Arabs said no. The UN offered to divide the land in 1947 into Jewish and Arab states. The Arab powers said no, and invaded Israel in an attempt to destroy the fledgling Jewish state. In 2000, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak and, again in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered over 90% of the West Bank, all of Gaza and substantial parts of Jerusalem. In both cases, the Palestinian leadership said no and made no counter-offer.

Furthermore, from 1948 to 1967, all of the West Bank and Gaza and half of Jerusalem were controlled by Jordan and Egypt, yet no Palestinian movement called for a Palestinian state in these territories. If the denial of such a state is the crux of the problem, Palestinians could have been expected to have waged diplomatic and terrorist warfare on Egypt and Jordan in a bid to pressure these powers to create one. It never happened.

To call the creation of a Palestinian state a “solution” where Israel would be accepted continues to be highly unlikely. A July 2011 PCP poll showed that only 34% of Palestinians accept the idea of a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. Moreover, there is no map in the Palestinian Authority (PA) that identifies a country called ‘Israel’ – only the name ‘Palestine’ appears on the entire territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Even the new Fatah ruling party emblem recently commissioned by the PA depicts the entirety of Israel draped in Palestinian headgear and labeled ‘Palestine.’ Indeed, Abbas continuously and publicly states “I do not accept a Jewish state; call it what you will.” Their animus towards Jews is so strong that PA leaders –  Abbas, Saeb Erakat, Ahmed Qurei to name three of the most senior – have insisted that no Jew will be permitted to live in a future Palestinian state.

Many PA leaders openly call for Israel’s destruction. In UN speeches, Abbas condemns Israel for “63 years of occupation” – meaning all of Israel is illegal so far as Palestinians are concerned. He calls Israel the “land of Mohammad and Jesus,” denying its Jewish connection. In a New York Times op-ed, Abbas even wrote that a Palestinian state will lead the PA, not to peace, but to “internationalize the conflict as a legal matter … paving the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the UN, human rights treaty bodies, and the International Court of Justice.”

And how is a Palestinian state possible when rivals Fatah and Hamas control West Bank areas and Gaza respectively? All these facts, along with their refusal to negotiate are scarcely grounds for belief that a Palestinian state is a “solution” for a real peace.

Therefore, we must all stop using the inaccurate term “two-state solution.” Israel is already a sovereign state and a Palestinian state is not the solution to the lack of peace. Only when the Palestinian Arabs and the wider Arab world truly accept the Jewish people’s rights to the land as a Jewish state will a real peace finally emerge.

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (London, 2004).

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  • bina

    It is all about Islam.

  • The “two-state solution” is not the only misleading nomenclature attached to the Arab-Israel conflict. Consider the following (with thanks to Jerry Verlin and Lee Bender):

    1. West Bank (should be Judea and Samaria)
    2. Occupied lands (territories won in wars of defense)
    3. Palestinians (applies to both Jews and Muslims)
    4. War on terror (should be the war against radical Jihad)

    I agree with the sentiments and conclusions of Klein and Mandel in their excellent article. Sadly, unvarnished truth is not helping Israel win its battle for hearts and minds around the world. This does not mean Israel’s advocates should surrender to the numerous purveyors of anti-Israel hate mongering. Rather, among the many challenges facing Zionists everywhere, and as Klein and Mandel assert, the terminology employed against the Jewish state must be corrected. Psychology teaches us that words determine thoughts and ideas. History demonstrates that thoughts result in ideologies and actions.
    Israel will never win a PR war against its enemies if the terms employed to wage that war are not accurately defined. Nevertheless, no matter how much accuracy is brought to bear on the Arab-Israeli conflict, no anti-Semite will ever be convinced of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders — or at all.

  • Jill Skriver

    Israel has given back Gaza; let that be their Country. Not one inch of the West Bank or Jerusalem should be relinquished. The UN is now being run by Islam; just look at the decisions being made. It is time Israel quit deceiving themselves that Palestinians will ever allow Israel the right to exist. They train their children to “yearn” to be martyrs. It is shown as expected in the mosque, taught on moms lap, cartoons are made promoting it, it is taught/encouraged in schools and there are even summer camps! Israel wants to help the PA to obtain a State? Israel, that is called suicide!

  • Klein and Mandel write with extraordinary clarity and insight! I will only add that, theologically, Muslims cannot possibly accept the equality of a Jew and a Muslim. According to Islam, Jews are to receive (at best) only second-class standing in a Muslim polity, provided that Jews remain respectful to Islam and submissive to Muslims. Theologically, Muslims cannot possibly accept the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as “the” Jewish State, i.e. as the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People in a part of its aboriginal homeland. Neither Iran’s Ahmedinejad nor the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas accept the status of the Jewish People, as “a People” within the context of the political and legal doctrine of the self-determination of Peoples. From an Islamic perspective, there is simply no basis for a full-and-final peace that would bring an end to the Muslim and Arab war against Jews, Judaism, the Jewish People and Israel. I wish it were otherwise, but why should we live with transparent lies? By contrast, facing such hard truths about Islam helps remind that life can still go on via unity and strength. In friendship with those willing to reciprocate, Jews can still move forward dealing with the challenges of today and tomorrow.

  • Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic

    I sent this out a few days ago to my email list:

    On the eve of President Obama visiting Israel, I am sending out the reprint of one of my articles (of 2005) which is very much apropos. Please feel free to disseminate it to your email lists across the world.


    Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic

    Or Formula to Hold on to the Land

    Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic

    Tamim According to Rashi

    We usually worry because of the unknown: not knowing what to expect exacerbates any difficult situation. Thus, in the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”, the darkness of the tunnel would represent the doubt of the unknown, and the light, the certainty of knowing. Since time immemorial people have sought “relief” from worry by not waiting patiently for the passage of time till the future point at the end of the tunnel, but by striving to develop an earlier knowledge of what the future may hold. The nations of the ancient world have sought advice and instruction of necromancers, the crystal-ball-soothsayers and hand-lines-readers probing the unknowns of the future. Jews are forbidden (Deut. 18:9-15) to seek enlightment from such sources (even if they should prove to sometimes be accurate) and are bidden to rely in such matters solely on the pronouncements of our prophets– not politicians–, who possess the divine power to accurately predict future events. Knowledge of the future, besides mitigating worry, fear, and doubt, also gives one the ability to adequately prepare for a predicted calamity. The more accurate is a weather prediction, for example, the better one can plan even for a tornado or tsunami.
    In the context of the above-mentioned verses dealing with this issue, the Torah enjoins us to be “tamim” (ibid18:15) and not to imitate the non-Jews who seek information from the necromancers. Rashi comments (ibid): “walk with Him with tmimus, look forward to Him, and don’t delve deeply into the future, but whatever comes upon you accept with tmimus, and then you will be with Him and of His portion”. The word “tamim” in most Torah texts means “one who is whole and complete”, as, for example, a korban offering (sacrifice) which needs to be tamim, whole and without blemish. In our present context, which contains a limited number of prohibitions regarding consultations with necromancers, we may ask, why should there be an emphasis on the extreme end of the spectrum: don’t transgress these few prohibitions, but make sure that you are tamim, whole and complete, in the full observance of all the Mitzvoth?
    This question seems to lead Rashi to conclude that tamim here does not mean whole and complete, but rather “simple”, lacking sophistication and astuteness (and feeling non-the- worse or lacking for it), as the Tam, the simple son of the Hagadah, or “Yaakov was a man who was tam” (Genesis 25:27), meaning that he was lacking, not wise in the ways of the world. In our context: you may not delve in getting to know what the future holds, but rather remain incomplete and lacking of that type of knowledge.

    Worry or Acceptance

    The next question which Rashi then addresses is: if we are not allowed to delve into knowledge of future events (short of finding a prophet–not always easily feasible), how can we mitigate worrying about the future? If there is a “kosher” way, short of prophecy, which may enable us to gain this type of knowledge, and which may enable us to adequately prepare for storms of the future, why shouldn’t we avail ourselves of it?
    Don’t we rely on weather predictions regarding impending storms as a matter of course?
    According to Ramban ( Deut. 18:9 ) who holds that the predictions of the necromancers are usually false and inaccurate, we can well understand why we should not rely on them. But Rashi, who implies that the Torah prohibits relying on their their predictions even when they are accurate, would it not be useful to rely on them when their predictions are not connected to idol worship?
    To offset this question, Rashi adds : (a) “look forward to (the help) of G-d”
    (b) “don’t delve deeply into what the future holds” (vs. occasionally inquiring of a prophet regarding the future) (c) “be accepting with tmimus of all that may befall you”.
    This may be explained as follows: G-d abhors our being preoccupied, fixated on, and “delving deeply” on the predictions of necromancers (even if accurate), but wants us to “look forward to His help”, and offset worry about the future by adopting an attitude of full acceptance regarding whatever the future may hold. Accordingly, worry is mitigated through unconditional acceptance rather than through whatever clarity one can gain about the future.

    Formula to Hold on to the Land

    We must still understand why Rashi adds further: “you will (then, through adopting this kind of attitude) be with Him and as His portion”?
    This will be understood by bearing in mind the general theme of these verses: “do not seek predictions of the necromancers, for G-d abhors this and is therefore chasing these evil nations out of the Holy Land”. By implication, if one follows the injunctions of steering clear from the pundits and necromancers, rather putting his full trust in G-d and accepting what He has in store for him — that will secure his hold on the Holy Land, and, in effect, set the stage to truly be “with Him and His Portion”.
    The current leadership in Israel has been defective in the worst way on all these counts. They do rely heavily of the modern necromancers, soothsayers, pundits, politicians, naysayers and predictors of our times. They blindly, lemming-like, follow their opinion that Jewish and Israeli salvation lies in being attentive and subservient to world opinion and to American financial support, and they indeed fear their “dire” predictions about what the future will hold, should their opinion not be followed. They thus reject out of hand the Tamim approach, don’t look forward to G-d’s Help, and, for example, have blithely given Gaza away because of political predictions and calculations! Instead of becoming “His portion” and securing the possession and annexation of Gaza and other biblically-mandated territories, conquered in a defensive war, they willfully let go off the Land and gave it to the sworn enemy on a silver platter, and thus increased the security risks that many times over!

    Based on Likkutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe vol 14, pp 64-69

  • Jesse Slome

    Amen. The arabs have won the PR war. When the Palestinians want true peace, Israel will bend over far too backwards to give up land, cities and its own people, like they did in Egypt. the end game is not a second state, its one Palestinian state, Jew free.

  • I suggest we take this one step further; The ‘two state solution’ has already been accomplished. ‘Two states side by side, one Jewish and one Palestinian.’ Israel on the Western side of the Jordan River and Jordanian Palestinian Jordan on the East side. It’s time for Israelis to proclaim the obvious. There is no sense in beating the poor donkey anymore. Those who hate us will hate us anyway, regardless. Amen. Let’s Eat.