Peter Beinart is the latest non-Israeli to prescribe what Israel must do to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians. Beware this prophet. A former, impassioned advocate of the two-state solution, he now calls for the establishment of “a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state” in a single entity he calls “Israel-Palestine”; effectively, a one-state solution.
Beinart’s proposal, printed in The New York Times, is symptomatic of an U.S. political pendulum whose direction is unfavorable to the state of Israel and whose momentum is generated in significant part by strands of vocal, Diaspora Jews.
Israel must challenge him and those like him.
Below are six questions for overseas proponents of the two-state and one-state solutions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Is the policy you propose implementable?
When advocating for the two-state solution, could you open a map of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and demonstrate how a contiguous state for the Palestinian Arabs — incorporating Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip — could be established without breaching the contiguity of northern and southern Israel?
Is there evidence that concessions of Israeli land and security control will yield peace for Israel?
Since withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, Israelis have fallen prey to thousands of rockets launched from the territory vacated. More than two-thirds of the state of Israel is within range of rocket attacks from Gaza. Does that reality inspire confidence in further concessions of land or security control?
Are the majority of Israelis prepared to divide our capital city?
The people of Israel always yearned to return to Jerusalem. For millions of Israelis, Jerusalem is the heart of our existence. Thus, we believe that carving up that heart would destroy, not preserve, the broader Israeli organism. No Israeli prime minister has successfully negotiated the partitioning of Jerusalem since its reunification. Israelis are not in the business of partitioning the holy city.
If a given solution fails, will those who championed it be willing to live with the consequences of that failure?
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, three defensive operations have been launched by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in response to acts of terror from the strip. Such operations required, among others, the repeated, mass mobilization of the IDF reservists. These citizen soldiers are our fathers and our mothers, our doctors, professors, lawyers and innovators. Some of these citizen soldiers are killed. Anyone unwilling to accept such risks for themselves has no right to ask Israelis to do so.
If a given solution fails, will those who championed it be willing to have their own children face the consequences of that failure?
Most of Israel’s defenders are ages 18 to 21. In wartime, they can see the towns they defend from the forward lines of the battlefield. The IDF’s last four major, cross-border operations resulted from the land for peace formula and the relinquishing of Israeli security control. In each case, our teenage defenders were protecting a society whose children have grown up under rocket fire. Are overseas peace proponents so confident in their suggestions that they would be willing to stake the lives of their own children on its outcome?
Why do people overseas believe Israelis require any pressure whatsoever in order to fashion a peaceful way forward for ourselves and our loved ones?
The Israeli debate as to how we ensure a life of peace is alive and intense. It is Israel’s to have. Overseas pressure is not required for us to recognize the urgency of peace-making. We have made peace with enemies before. We seek to do so again. We have not, and do not, seek to do so along parameters that would imperil our very existence.
If Beinart and others like him are unable to respond with a resounding “yes” to all these questions, they ought to move away from policies they have thus far promoted and consider alternative ideas.
A stubborn unwillingness to do so is indicative of a readiness to impose upon Israelis a standard they would never accept for themselves.