Today’s NYT op-ed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of those pieces that manages to be profound and say nothing at the same time. In an essay titled “The Two-State Solution Doesn’t Solve Anything”….stop right there. The two-state solution isn’t a solution? Can you guess where this is going?
Authors Hussein Agha and Robert Malley believe – or rather they believe that the Israelis and Palestinians believe – that the conflict is existential.
Okay, let’s assume – for the moment – that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is existential. What then? The authors present the problem, but not the solution. Except they do present the solution, only they won’t say so directly.
For years, virtually all attention has been focused on the question of a future Palestinian state, its borders and powers. As Israelis make plain by talking about the imperative of a Jewish state, and as Palestinians highlight when they evoke the refugees’ rights, the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the state of Israel.
Ah, there we go. The heart of the matter isn’t that the Arab world refuses to accept the existence of a Jewish state. Or that Muslims from Algeria to Iran – states that should have no real political, geographic or economic conflict with Israel – are obsessed withe the Jewish state. Or, that Palestinian leaders tell their own people that any peace agreement would only a first step toward a reconquista of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Nope, the problem is “defining” the state of Israel, which is merely another way of saying that the problem is the existence of Israel. After all, if it was just a question of creating a Palestinian nation, then the two-state solution would be fine.
But of course, Mssrs. Agha and Malley wouldn’t make the NYT editorial page if they directly called for the end of the only national home for the Jewish people on Earth. Maybe the Jews should settle for a state on Mars? Then the UN and The Guardian would accuse us of oppressing Marvin the Martian.