The future of Israel

A New Statesman special report on the future of "liberal Zionism" and the two-state solution.

New Statesman

In this series of articles, the New Statesman explores the future of Israel, the concept of Zionism, and the continuing possibility of a two-state solution.

The NS leader argues that now is not the time to give up on a two-state solution:

While the proposal of a one-state solution has consid­erable rhetorical appeal, it is no less fraught with difficulty. To suppose that Israelis and the Palestinians could live side by side in one state is to indulge in liberal utopianism... Most Israelis and Palestinians will continue to support a two-state solution as the means for both sides to preserve the right to national self-determination. There is no mandate for a one-state solution, whether it be a “greater Israel” or a binational state.

The Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland explodes the myths around the idea of Zionism, and suggests that a one-state solution would be in neither states' best interests:

The Palestinian thinkers to whom I’ve spoken on this subject exhibit little enthusiasm for the one-state idea except as a tactic to force Israel to pursue two states in earnest. That makes sense, because the one-state solution is nothing of the sort. It is the lose-lose scenario, in which two peoples who have long yearned for self-determination are both denied.

It gives no one, neither Palestinians nor Jews, what they want, namely the chance to be master of their destiny. It suggests that two nations that could not negotiate a divorce should get married instead. It demands that two peoples that have fought bloodily for nearly a century should now live in harmony. It asks of Jews and Arabs the very thing that proved impossible for Czechs and Slovaks – to share a single state. If those mild-mannered central Europeans couldn’t manage it, why do we think Jews and Palestinians would fare better?

Palestinian-American journalist and author Ali Abunimah, however, suggests that grass-roots support, in both Israel and Palestine, for a one-state solution is higher than you might think:

If two ethnically distinct states are unachievable and unjust, where can we go? Remarkably, the Konrad Adenauer/Ford poll found that 36 per cent of Israelis (28 per cent counting only Jews) and 31 per cent of Palestinians agreed with the argument that “there is a need to begin to think about a solution of a one state for two people in which Arabs and Jews enjoy equality”.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart and Knowing Too Much by Norman Finkelstein, and explores how Liberal American Jews are falling out of love with Israel:

A gulf has opened, and is widening all the time, between the broadly liberal Jewish-American mainstream and the ferociously, uncritically pro-Israeli official “Jewish establishment” (the Anti-Defamation League, Aipac and others), elderly, rich and right-wing, though also self-perpetuating and unrepresentative.

In this map, Alex Hern charts how control of land has changed over time, between Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian administration.