Thursday, October 11, 2012

One State Two States by Benny Morris

Benny Morris has written a very disturbing book called One State Two States in which he analyzes the current trend among liberal intellectuals that posit the solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is one democratic state in the Middle East.  Morris uncovers this so-called solution as an old idea that really implies eliminating the State of Israel through natural demographics.  Without mentioning the actual statistics but stressing the value of equality, some intellectuals suggest that one state giving citizenship to all the ethnicities would solve the conflict.

With historical aplomb and dexterity, Professor Morris demonstrates that not only did this idea arise in the past but failed miserably.  Professor Morris reminds the reader that the fundamental reason the conflict has not ended is due to Arab irredentism and rejection of the Jewish state.  Demanding a democratic state over a nation-state according to the intellectuals is the contemporary view; the idea of the nation-state is passé. Dr. Morris raises some of the counter arguments. For example, France and Germany are nation-states that have large ethnic populations but nobody seems to demand that those countries change their makeup!  Why start with Israel?

He points out that when the Arab neighbors desire peace the Israelis make enduring treaties.  Theologically, however, the Muslim world claims all of Palestine and calls the Jewish people interlopers.  Such an environment breeds contempt for the Jewish people. 

What I found fascinating was Professor Morris’ willingness to go with a two state idea in solving the conflict by raising an old idea: the Jordanian option.  Should King Abdullah choose to take back, manage and incorporate the West Bank and its Palestinian population there would be a viable solution.  This conclusion basically acknowledges that the chances of a solution are slight.

This book is forcefully argued and well worth reading for a brief historical account of the different options in solving the conflict: ‘bi-national one state’ or ‘two state solutions’.

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