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January 25, 2018 9:36 am

An Appeal to Alan Dershowitz on the Two-State Solution

avatar by Martin Sherman

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An Israeli settlement. Photo: TrickyH via Wikimedia Commons.

Alan Dershowitz has been a stout defender of Israel for years — often in very inclement circumstances. For this, he deserves commendation and appreciation. 

Dershowitz, however, has made two choices that largely undermine his otherwise stalwart pro-Israel efforts.

The first was his ill-advised (two-time) support of Barack Obama

The other was his dogged support of the two-state formula — despite the accumulating evidence as to its folly, futility and failure.

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At least regarding his endorsement of Obama, Dershowitz no longer seems to have any illusions about the man he voted for. In a scathing interview on Fox News, he excoriated Obama’s betrayal of Israel:“He will go down in history … as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever. He called me into the Oval Office before the election and he said to me ‘Alan … I have to tell you I will always have Israel’s back.’ I didn’t realize what he meant is that he would have its back to stab them in the back.”

While Dershowitz’s grave misjudgment of Obama should serve to instill considerable doubt as to the accuracy of his political instincts, his past endorsement is essentially “water-under-the-bridge” — and little can be done to redress any damage it might have caused. This, however, is not the case with his continuing support for the fatally flawed formula for two-states as a blueprint for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. 

After all, a quarter-century has passed since the two-state paradigm became a centerpiece of Israeli foreign policy. Back then, with the heady optimism that accompanied the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were proponents and opponents of the idea.

The proponents promised sweeping benefits — pan-regional peace, prosperity and an El Dorado-like “New Middle East.” By contrast, opponents warned of dire dangers that would bring death and devastation on both Jews and Arabs alike. Today, two-and-half decades later, virtually none of the benefits promised by the proponents have materialized, while all of the dangers warned of by the opponents have.

Accordingly, by any reasonable standard, the jury is no longer out.

But empirical evidence is not the only reason for professed liberal-democrats  — such as Dershowitz — to reject two-statism. There are also — or at least should be —  matters of moral principle.

Indeed, liberal support for Palestinian statehood is particularly perplexing. After all, once the platitudes are set aside, calling for a Palestinian state is nothing more than a call for the establishment of (yet another) homophobic, misogynistic, Muslim-majority tyranny, which will comprise an entity that is the antithesis of all the liberal values allegedly invoked for its inception.

There is little persuasive reason to believe — and two-staters have certainly never provided one — that the societal hallmarks of such a Palestinian state would be anything other than: gender discrimination against women/girls; persecution of homosexuals; religious intolerance of non-Muslim faiths; and the relentless pursuit and prosecution of political dissidents.

However, it is with regard to the security implications, that the specter of two-statism has perhaps its gravest impact. Indeed, it was none other the arch-architect of the Oslo Accords, Shimon Peres, who warned that setting up a Palestinian state would “in itself create compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions.”

Two-staters, such as Dershowitz, would do well to heed this grim prognosis. For as I have argued elsewhere, if the IDF were to evacuate Judea-Samaria, there is little reason to believe that it would not follow the same path as Gaza, and descend into tyrannical Islamist theocracy. Indeed, the proponents of such evacuation have not — and cannot — provide any persuasive assurance that it will not.

Moreover, this “mega-Gaza” would pose a far greater threat to Israel’s security. For, unlike Gaza, which has a 50 km border with Israel, any prospective Palestinian-Arab entity in Judea-Samaria would have a frontier of anything up to 500 km (and possibly even more).

Moreover, unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority over its surrounding environs, the limestone hills of Judea-Samaria dominate virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80% of the civilian population and commercial activity.

On the security issue, Dershowitz has, of late, been expressing some decidedly perplexing positions. In a 2015 Fox interview, he conceded that even if Israel ended its “occupation” [of Judea-Samaria] immediately, as it did in Gaza, the violence would probably increase rather than decrease.

This of course leaves us to ponder: (a) why Israel should relinquish any territory, as the past precedent proves it merely serves as a platform from which to launch attacks against it; (b) given the admitted futility of territorial concession, what does Dershowitz propose?

As for the latter, in a 2016 televised interview, he suggested that Israel should remove its civilian presence for areas designated for a Palestinian state — but leave the IDF deployed therein. But this, as I have pointed out repeatedly, would replicate precisely the same conditions that prevailed in South Lebanon, until the hasty retreat by the IDF in 2000. As such, there is little reason to expect that it would produce anything but a very similar outcome — a unilateral abandonment of the territory, which become a fearsome arsenal, bristling with weapons aimed at the heart of Israel’s civilian centers.

And if one abandons a pro-Israel perspective, and views the rationale and record of the two-state prescription from a Palestinian angle, the condemnation is even harsher. For this approach has wrought nothing but devastation and deprivation for the common Palestinian, left awash in untreated sewage flows — with well over 90% of the water-supply unfit for drinking — electrical power available for only a few hours a day, and soaring unemployment rates.

Indeed, in terms of sheer human cost, it is difficult to conceive of anyone that has inflicted greater harm on Palestinian society than avid two-staters.

It is time for Dershowitz to resign himself to the recalcitrant realities, and renounce his support for the ill-conceived notion of two-statism — before he has occasion to rue his mistake even more than his ill-advised endorsement of Obama.

So Professor Dershowitz, carpe diem. And renounce two-statism.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

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