Opinion |

What the 'One-state Solution' Really Means: Israeli-sanctioned Apartheid or Eternal, Bloody Civil War

The Jewish hard right and the Jewish hard left, the Likud and Jewish Voice for Peace, are united by their rejection of two states. But those fanatics doom both Jews and Palestinians to a one state 'solution' from hell

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Eric H. Yoffie
A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot at Israeli troops during clashes after U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. December 8, 2017
A Palestinian protester uses a sling to hurl stones towards Israeli troops during clashes after U.S. President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. December 8, 2017Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Eric H. Yoffie

Who would have thought? The forces of the Jewish hard right and the Jewish hard left have united.

The Likud Central Committee and the Jewish Voice for Peace have joined the same team, along with other extremist forces on the right and the left. Both are intent on establishing a bi-national state in place of the Jewish state of Israel. Both are committed to a one-state solution that will put an end to Israel as a Jewish and democratic commonwealth. Both constitute a mortal danger to mainstream Zionism.

This cooperative venture, of course, is unintended and unacknowledged. After all, each group dismisses the other with scorn. Each sees the other as the devil and the enemy. And each sees its own purposes as noble and those of its counterpart as contemptible.

Nonetheless, the evidence is indisputable. Radical voices on both sides of the political spectrum are speaking the same language and offering the same absurd solution.

Their key principle, jointly embraced, is simply this: Not two states, but one. Not separation of Israel and Palestine, but unification of two hostile cultures. Not a proud, liberal and democratic Jewish homeland living alongside its Palestinian neighbor, but a single state doomed to either apartheid or eternal civil war.

To be sure, each side has a different vision of what a single state should look like. And each is confident that what their ideological opposite is proposing is immoral and unworkable. And in that latter assumption, both are right.

To take the best and most recent example from the fanatic right, we need only look at the decision of the Likud Central Committee on December 31, 2017.

Members of the ruling Likud party vote on a resolution calling on Israel to move to annex the West Bank and build more settlements. December 31, 2017Credit: Meged Gozani

Contrary to widespread press reports, the awkwardly worded resolution adopted that evening did not actually call for the formal annexation of territories. Its intention was to encourage the application of Israeli law in the West Bank to Jews - and Jews alone.

In fact, this is already the case; but the current legal situation is temporary, at least in theory, and is dependent on the approval of the military governor of the territories, who has ultimate legal authority. But if the resolution were to be passed into law, as Likud now demands, the legal discrimination would become official Israeli policy.

What this means, as Likud leaders loudly proclaim, is that for their party, the two-state solution is officially discarded. And Likud is now content to allow a non-democratic, single-state reality to evolve from the current occupation.

And if adopted by the Knesset, the decision would put in place some form of apartheid - a word that most of us in the mainstream Jewish community have carefully avoided until now. But since the Likud resolution intends to apply two different sets of legal rules to different populations occupying the same territory, there is simply no word other than "apartheid" that fits.

Palestinians and left-wing activists hold a placard reading "Apartheid is here" during a protest against Jewish settlement activity in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem. February 26, 2010Credit: REUTERS

This is the real significance of the December 31 resolution. It is true that apartheid is not government policy, and the Prime Minister, who remained disgracefully silent as this resolution was passed, now suggests that it does not reflect his views.

Nonetheless, Israels ruling party has officially adopted a pro-apartheid position as its vision for the Jewish state. This is an infamous resolution and a tragedy for the Jewish people.

And who, in heavens name, are the Jews who support apartheid in Israel? Sane, centrist American Jews, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community, do not. And in poll after poll, the majority of Israelis do not either.

But the Likud resolution, casting aside the democratic character of Zionism and the will of the Jewish masses, urges this course nonetheless. And even though it is non-binding, it allows the radical left, Jewish and non-Jewish, to rant about a perfidious, racist Israel. And in the process it discredits Israels government, tarnishes Israels reputation in the world, and discourages Jews everywhere - who expect more from Israels ruling party.

But is the radical left any better? Not the least bit.

Take Jewish Voice for Peace. Because its leaders have been excluded from visiting Israel by the recently published BDS blacklist, JVP is the current poster child for far left politics.

Members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink, both on Israel's newly announced BDS blacklist, demonstrate against Israeli military operations in Gaza. Washington D.C. July 21, 2014Credit: Atheer Ahmed Kakan / Anadolu Age

The blacklist, it should be said, is unfortunate. While Israel is entitled to exclude whomever it wishes, it makes sense to do so only when immediate security concerns are at stake. Otherwise, it is giving attention to those who least deserve it.

And it is difficult to think of any group less deserving than JVP. Dont be fooled by its pious proclamations about fighting for justice. The justice to which it refers does not apply to Jews. And while its anti-occupation rhetoric sometimes gives the impression that it only opposes Israels presence in the West Bank, it - like the Likud Central Committee - has no interest in territorial withdrawal and "two states for two peoples."

No illusions, please. JVP is an apologist for terror. It is a trafficker in anti-Semitic slurs. And most important, it too is an emphatic advocate for a single state, predicated in this case on erasing the Jewish state, implementing the Palestinian "right of return," ending Zionism in any form, and subjecting what will be the Jewish minority in Israel/Palestine to chaos, powerlessness, and eternal civil war. No thank you.

Palestinians pass by Israeli troops during clashes, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. January 9, 2018Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS

If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is this: Single-statism is dangerous from the hard right, dangerous from the hard left, and even more of a threat when pushed by extremists from both sides.

Are there not sane Israelis - left, right, and especially center - who comprehend this? Who will advocate for two states, and if this is not possible now, for separation until it is?

Are there not political leaders who will speak up against the one-state coalition from hell that threatens Israels very being?

Are there not Jewish voices who will say no to apartheid, no to the Palestinian right of return, no to bi-nationalism, and no to ideological extremism?

I believe there are. We are waiting for them to speak and be heard.

Eric H. Yoffie, a rabbi, writer and teacher in Westfield, New Jersey, is a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Twitter: @EricYoffie

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