Is a “two state solution” still possible? Liberal Zionists struggle to keep the dream of a jewish state alive against increasing odds

Liberal Jews in Canada are increasingly concerned that a two state solution, which would allow Israel to keep 3/4 of historic Palestine as a Jewish State, may no longer be possible. Some openly worry about the “slippery slope to a dangerous one state reality” in which Palestinians would be a majority. Watch this recording of a webinar organized by one of Canada’s leading liberal Zionist organizations.

Canadian Friends of Peace Now, (CFPN) describes itself as “the largest Jewish organization in Canada that is Zionist and dedicated entirely to promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace on the basis of the two-state solution.”

But the “2 state solution” is increasingly under fire from both the left and the right. There are fewer and fewer Palestinians who still believe it is possible, and fewer and fewer Israelis who say they want to make any concession to the Palestinians.

On June 15th, CFPN organized a webinar with Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher whose title was “The Slippery Slope: Israel/Palestine’s descent towards a dangerous one-state reality”. A link to the hour long webinar can be found here.

Alpher’s comments, and the questions raised from the audience after his presentation, reflect a growing desperation on the part of liberal Jews. In his presentation, Alpher demonstrated that he is well informed and thoughtful. He showed a good understanding of many of the issues.

Like many of the members of CFPN, Alpher is mainly concerned about saving the dream of a Jewish State. He worries that in one state, Jews will no longer be able to justify to the world permanent Jewish control over a non Jewish majority.

Unfortunately for his audience, who see the “two state solution” as a way to preserve the dream of a Jewish state, Alpher had little to offer in the way of hope. He argued that there is little support for a two state solution (except perhaps among liberal Jews in the diaspora). He saw none in the Israeli government, very little among the Israeli public, none among neighbouring Arab states, and no energy for really supporting it in the USA (despite official rhetoric). This against a backdrop of a worrying (for him) rejection of the two state idea among young Palestinians – both in the West Bank and inside Israel itself.

And Canada???

The notion of a “two state solution” still remains the official position of the Canadian government. It is a position that gets broad support in the Canadian population because it sounds “fair”. But that support is only “theoretical”, because as Israel continues to undermine the very basis for a two state solution by demolishing Palestinian houses, building new settlements, and arresting Palestinians who resist on an almost daily basis, Canada mostly looks the other way.

In the USA???

LIberal Zionists in the USA are on the defensive – attacked by well financed right wing Jewish organizations. Democratic congressman Andrew Levin, a Jew, came under intense fire from AIPAC, which opposed his renomination as a candidate for the 2022 election because he dared to be critical of Israel. Levin, who still says he still hopes for a two state solution, was defeated in the Democratic primary by the right wing Zionist machine.

Just before election day, Levin was interviewed by Peter Beinart, a well known US intellectual who had famously written in the New York Times that he has given up on the idea of a Jewish state.

The link to the hour long Beinart-Levin discussion is here.

Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

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  1. “Jews will no longer be in the majority and will no longer be able to justify to the world permanent Jewish control over a non Jewish minority.”

    What a weird sentence. If Jews are the minority, how would they justify to the world permanent Jewish control over a non-Jewish minority when the non-Jewish population is the majority. That would be sort of like Saddam who had permanent Sunni control over a majority Shi’ite majority or like Assad who has permanent Alawhite Shi’ite control over a majority Sunni population.

    1. Mr. Sigman,
      Thank you. Of course that is a typo. I mean to say “Jewish control over a non Jewish majority”. I think you probably knew that, but I am happy to make the edit. thank you

  2. The “dream” of a two-state solution is not disappearing. It was never real. It was camouflage for making the theft of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians permanent. It was an attempt to make acts that were both immoral and illegal appear legal.

    The so-called Palestinian State never had the powers of a real state. It would not have had control of its borders and would not have been capable of self-defence.

    Before the State of Israel was created, Palestinians were able to travel, live, and work anywhere in Palestine. The proposed Two-State Solution would restrict where most could live, work, or travel. As is true of residents of Gaza today, most Palestinians would be imprisoned in a large concentration camp.

    We should stop talking about this chimera. It distracts us from the only real solution, a single state with equality for all and no discrimination on the basis of religion or ethnicity.

  3. There is no 2SS available as an option. Lost gone.

    Technically there is if we empty out the settlements and move all Israelis behind the 48/67 (another topic) lines but that is not about to happen.

    No underground tunnels or above ground roadways address the lack of contiguous land. What security does Palestine or Palestians when with a single simple act their nation is bifurcated or worse. To spend their lives subject to the mere whims of an ever increasing racist and violent society in Israel.

    Palestinian rights are no less then Israeli rights. Perhaps more given illegal use of occupied territory by the Idf commander. But certainly no less.

    This pretense and discussion of a 2SS serves the oppressor and enables further crimes and harm.

    1. Hey Anymoose
      I’m not even convinced that “technically” there ever was a “fair” 2 state solution. It leaves out the refugees, which is a huge issue.

      1. Frankly I don’t either. Merely trying to concede some fringe scenario might exist in someone’s. But there never was a 2SS. Not in 47/48. Not now. It was never part of the zionist plan of maximum territory, minimum Palestinians.

  4. Sadly “liberal zionism” is a misnomer since zionism is predicated on Jews having more rights to Historic Palestine than other inhabitants … Maybe it could be reformed to move to a bi-national vision but most doubt it … If the base conception is that Jews in #apartheid #israel have “more rights than others” like their Nationality Law predicates, the only conclusion is that modern zionims is a “supremacist ideology” and, as such, is rooted is some racism. And being racist is like being pregnant: You cannot be “lightly pregnant”. Liberal zionists do not seem to be able to reconciliate Democracy and Jewish Supremacy over some territory … At least the Right Wing zionists are frank and open with the fact that they would “tolerate” Palestinians on what they see as “Jewish Homeland” if they renounce any National aspiration and recgonize Jewish Supremacy over Historic Palestine.

    So we are headed either to a FULL APARTHEID state OR, being the humanist optimist that I am, towards a FULLY DEMOCRATIC Bi-National State if enough moderates on both sides get tired of the ongoing rape of Palestinians Human Rights … But the realist in me wonder if I’ll live long enough to see a Just Peace in Palestine …

    2 States had a very narrow potential over time and like he said in a video while discussing with settlers in the 90’s, Netanyahu succeed to kill it by redefining what is the “security requirement” of #apartheid #israel. Just the fact that #apartheid #israel refused to accept the results of the 2006(2005?) Palestinian Elections tells us that they are not willing to accept Democracy in Palestine and that any Palestinian Authority they will deem “legit” are only puppet to their #apartheid regime.

    1. QCPal: Much as I disagree with, and dislike, Zionism, I don’t think it is based on an assumption of Jewish superiority. It is based on fear and desperation. It is a reaction to the anti-semitism that many Jews experienced in Europe. References to antisemitism can be found on about 1/4 of the pages of Herzl’s book “Der Judenstaat” (The Jewish State”).

      Long before the rise of Hitler and Naziism, Jews felt unwanted in Europe. During the Hitler period, Jews were (understandably) frightened. Even after the defeat of Nazi Germany, most (not all!) were afraid to go back and live among the people that had either supported or allowed the Holocaust. Herzl’s proposal was to give up trying to assimilate and gain acceptance and instead form a state of their own. He saw this as the only escape. Eventually, many were convinced that no place other than the area where their religion was founded would be safe. Even today, many of my fellow Jews, hearing my views, felt that they had to “remind” me that antisemitism could arise anytime anywhere and I would need Israel as a place where I could flee. That’s fear – not superiority.

      Things have changed. I have met many Israelis who, blinded by Israel’s success, ignore how much help Israel has received from others, and feel superior. Even among them, there is an underlying fear. They feel surrounded by enemies and want to live in a fortress called Israel. We are watching a vicious cycle; fearing their enemies they keep making more of them. Rather than try to contribute to the existing society (as we did in Canada or the US) they chose to suppress that society and build a totally new one along more familiar lines. They mostly ignored the rights of those who were already there.

      1. Dr David Parnas, a lot of what you write here is correct. (I’m not used to reading something by you that I agree with!) What puzzles me is that while you understand that Jews were justifiably afraid to return to Europe where most of the population was indifferent or hostile to their fate, you don’t understand Israeli’s similar fear of being a minority in a Palestine that has an Arab majority.

        This week the allegedly moderate Palestinian Authority is presiding over the lionization of three men who viciously killed Jews in the 1929 pogrom in Hebron and Jerusalem. 130 Jews were killed over the course of two days and many more injured. The surviving members of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron were evacuated by the British, ending centuries of Jewish life in that city, which is a holy city for Judaism.

        Most of the victims of these massacres were not Zionists and not recent arrivals in Palestine, but Jews whose families had lived in Palestine for centuries. The three men being celebrated were hanged by the British for particularly vicious killings of innocent Jews.

        Do you not see how this undermines the project of a single Palestine with equal rights for all especially with the return of millions who are descended from Palestinian refugees? What kind of future can Israeli Jews expect in a society in which murderers of Jews are national heros?

      2. Mr. Roytenberg,

        It is easy for me to understand the fear of some Jews to return to Europe; I grew up surrounded by people (including both parents) who had been forced to flee from the Nazis. I lost a grandmother who was killed in a Nazi Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) in Ukraine. However, understanding that fear is not the same as agreeing with their response to that fear. If someone hits me and knocks me out, I am not entitled to attack another person that I encounter after struggling to my feet. Doing so would not only be immoral but counterproductive; in responding to one enemy, I would make at least one more.

        It is also easy to understand the fear of being a minority, or even a member of a majority, in a land filled with antagonistic people. However, again, understanding does not mean I agree with Israelis’ response to that fear. In responding to that fear they have unjustly deprived other (often innocent) human beings of their homes and lives. Rather than find ways to reduce that antagonism, they have created more. The commandments of our shared heritage tell me that is not the way to treat other people.

        Jews did need a place where they could feel safe and free. Some of us were able to find that place here, or in the US, or in the UK, or even back in Germany and Eastern Europe. Others chose to seek that safety in the area where their shared religion was born. Their mistake was to forget that they had always shared that land with other people – people who were also entitled to regard that land as home and to live safely. The also forgot that Balfour had offered them a “national home” not an exclusive state and that he had stated clearly “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”

        I do not believe that murderers of anyone of any ethnicity should be viewed as national heroes. Even those who kill to take revenge for other killings are not heroes. Nonetheless, reconciliation seems to me the only way to move forward. If we want our rights respected, we must respect the rights of others.

  5. (Levin was defeated in the Democratic primary by the right wing Zionist machine.)Thats not true. Levin was defeated by the electorate who voted against him. Why would you say that if you know it wasn’t true.

    1. Hey Sheldon, thanks for your comment.
      It was not my analysis, that AIPAC money defeated Levins, it was that of The Times of Israel.
      Please feel free to take up your argument with them.

      But on a more serious note, the post was about whether the 2 state solution has any supporters. Are you still among the liberal zionists who hope for a two state solution? Or do you agree with Alpher that there isn’t much hope?

  6. There is upward of 90% consensus among Israelis, that the one state reality of Jewish minority is a doomsday scenario that * will never happen*.
    The right believes that it can be avoided while still keeping the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

    The left on the other hand believes that Israel will be coerced to do it anyway by the international community (US) but would prefer that Israel would act now (hence the name Peace Now)

    Israel has a history of delaying politically difficult decisions to the very last moment but then execute them decisively. the Gaza withdrawal and the peace with Egypt in return for Sinai are just two of many examples

    When and if the international pressure on Israel would be unsustainable for Israel, israel will quickly rearrange itself into a smaller Jewish majority geographical area

    1. Hey David, thanks for this. I do think this does reflect the thinking of many Israelis. Most Israelis think all of the land is theirs, not that of the Palestinians. They are afraid, rightly, that the Palestinians will never be happy with that arrangement.

  7. People who say they support a two-state solution actually support the status quo, i.e. the continuing theft of land, water, livelihoods, and lives.

    1. Hey Elizabeth, thank you for your point, with which i mainly agree.

      But I actually think the term “status quo” is misleading as it implies stasis, no movement. In fact, every day Israel moves to expropriate more land, build more settlements. There is no “status quo”. It is in continual change. What was the status quo yesterday, is different today.

      1. Boy, you really hate the Israelis don’t you. I don’t know how you can make continual negative comments about Israel and Jews and not think you are anti Semitic. By the way, why don’t you watch CNNs special on Sunday night. You might learn something.

      2. Hello SE,
        Where have i made any negative comments about Jews? I am very critical of Israel, as you know, but I don’t have any antipathy towards Jews. I do think that Israel’s “Nation State” law, which legislated inequality between Jews and non-Jews in Israel is discriminatory, and perhaps even racist. But that is a criticism of the state, not of Jews.

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