Questions Two-State Logic


I applaud Rachel Lerner for speaking against the divestment resolution by Presbyterians (“Time To Prove Two-State Solution Isn’t Just Rhetoric,” Opinion, July 27). The logic of her support for a two-state solution, however, is flawed.

I’d like a two-state solution. I’d also like world peace and tasty fat-free pizza, but I have to accept reality. Israel can’t by itself provide a solution without a united Palestinian partner willing to negotiate a workable peace. The Palestinians are divided. Who should Israel negotiate with, and what is that side willing to negotiate?

Lerner evidently believes that the Jewish residents of the West Bank threaten Israeli’s democratic future. But consider the following. A nation gains land and control of a foreign population in war. For decades, the nation won’t allow the inhabitants of the land to vote. Is that nation a democracy? I’m not, though, talking about Israel and the West Bank. I am talking about the United States controlling Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the U.S. The United States acquired Puerto Rico in the treaty ending the Spanish-American War and, to this day, does not allow its residents to vote in American presidential elections. Democracy is more complex than Lerner allows.

A deeper problem, though, is the view that all Jewish residents of the West Bank must depart in order for a Palestinian state to exist and for Jewish democracy to thrive. Suppose I made this assertion: All Muslims living in Israel must be forced to leave. I would, justifiably, be called prejudiced and undemocratic. Why, then, is it either unprejudiced or pro-democratic to demand that all Jews leave any future Palestinian state?

All this does not mean that Israel should annex the West Bank. There are serious governing and demographic implications and profound worldwide political liabilities to such a step. Let’s not, though, delude ourselves into thinking that there are any easy and obvious choices for Israel or pro-Israel Americans.