Only the People of Europe Can Save Israel

The only way to guarantee Israeli democracy is by establishing a Palestinian state. The only way to achieve this is by appealing to Europe.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Pro-Palestinian activists at Brussels national airport, April 15, 2012.
Pro-Palestinian activists at Brussels national airport, April 15, 2012.Credit: Reuters
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

Is the window of opportunity for a two-state solution still open? It is closing soon, for sure. Every passing minute makes it more difficult. Optimists say there are still two more years until this option disappears completely. But the moment will come after which it will be impossible to remove a 3-year-old child from the West Bank settlement of Kfar Tapuah, which was established by his great-grandfather.

Do the Palestinians believe in the feasibility of the establishment of a Palestinian state? Not really. They are in despair. Their diplomatic campaign is faltering.

If a Palestinian state is not created, what will become of Israel? Many believe the Palestinians will agree to live in it as residents with no voting rights. Their thinking is that Palestinians will shop at the malls and go to health maintenance organization clinics, but not to polling stations. This will constitute a more refined form of apartheid, lasting forever and ever, these people think.

If this is what you believe, and your conscience is clear in light of such a vision, we should part company here – read no further.

What are those of us who believe that a binational state is a racist and violent disaster, a place where we don’t want to raise our children, supposed to do? Time is running out. How much longer do we have? I’m as old as the occupation. In two years I’ll turn 50. “We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got,” sings David Bowie in the apocalyptic opener to his 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Let’s decide that we have only two years remaining. A 50-year-old occupation can no longer be reversed. What should we do?

Some hope that Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog will take over as foreign minister. He won’t extricate us from the territories, nor will he bring about peace or evacuate the Ofra settlement. He will, however, convince his European counterparts to grant him a period of grace, in order to pursue some meaningless process that won’t do anything except waste time. Giving Herzog two years at the Foreign Ministry will finish us.

Some argue that we must believe in the sanity of the Israeli public and its desire for peace and quiet, and in our ability to persuade it to support a policy that actively and effectively implements a two-state solution – including the evacuation of settlers from around the West Bank’s Route 60 and the division of Jerusalem.

These people believe that we must put our trust in Israel’s democratic process and shake off our defeatist spirits. We must desist from our arrogance, our hatred of and contempt for voters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They agree with the right’s claims that any appeal by left-wing Israeli activists to overseas agencies is never legitimate, exceeding the rules of democratic fair play, exhibiting values that smack of treason – even if not legally treasonous.

This would work if we had another 50 years. However, the chance of convincing a significant majority of Israelis to change their opinions over a short time frame is unrealistic. Looking at things soberly, the public is not a partner.

The Palestinians, as noted above, have given up. They make do with petitions to the International Criminal Court in The Hague and soccer’s world governing body, FIFA.

The public in Europe, on the other hand, is a partner. Whereas here we are a negligible minority, in Europe we constitute a majority of 80 percent or more. Therefore, we have a chance of convincing European governments to reflect their own public’s opinions and to spearhead a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for recognition of a Palestinian state, and accepting it as a full-fledged UN member. Only this will force Israel to end the occupation.

Is this a democratic move on our part? Yes it is, since a binational state will be nondemocratic. The only way to guarantee Israeli democracy is by establishing a Palestinian state. The only way to achieve this is by appealing to Europe. When Europeans see left-wing Israeli leaders pull back or refuse to cooperate with them against Israel’s government, it weakens their resolve. When the left insists that this is an internal Israeli issue, Europe is less determined.

There is no other way – we need help.

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