Israel’s Security Establishment Makes Public Plea for a Two State Solution

7 Feb

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Rarely, if ever, has a newspaper ad mobilized such influential backing for a position of prominent Israelis at odds with the elected leadership of the Israeli state. A full page add appeared in the New York Times on February 4, 2016. It was sponsored by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. Considering the main readership of the NYT it is clear that the message was aimed at the American public, and likely, particularly at Jewish Americans and the advisors of the next American president who is to take office a year from now. Its message was proclaimed in large bold type: “Israel’s Security Chiefs Agree: Separation into two States is in Israel’s vital security interest.”

 

This assertion was followed by short supportive quotations beneath a rogues gallery of Israel’s security establishment: three rows of pictures, the top one of Six former Israeli IDF Chiefs of Staff, in the middle five former Shin Bet heads (internal security agency), and on the bottom five former heads of the Mossad (international intelligence agency). To be sure this is an imposing array of top Israeli officials together indirectly expressing their collective dismay with respect to the Likud government led by Netanyahu turning its back on the two-state solution. As such, it is an impressive expression of Israeli elite and informed opinion, but whether it reflects a consensus with political leverage either here in the United States or in Israel seems doubtful. At minimum it conveys the strong impression that an influential part of the Israeli establishment has lost confidence in the Netanyahu leadership to protect Israel’s vital interests, and this is itself significant.

 

The ad consists of two main features: photos of these military and intelligence officials, many familiar and some notorious names to those following Israeli politics and one-line quotations from each one expressing the need and urgency of implementing some version of the two-state solution for the sake of Israel’s security. Not surprisingly, all 16 are men who have been during the careers instrumental in the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people.

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Also not surprisingly, the ad makes clear that this break with the Netanyahu approach has nothing whatsoever to with seeking deferred justice for the Palestinians or some kind of empathy for their long ordeal. Support for a Palestinian state is exclusively connected with the supposed need to defuse the so-called ‘demographic bomb.’ Or in the language of the ad, “The only way Israel can remain a Jewish, democratic state is if the Palestinians have a demilitarized Palestinian state.” This rationale is the prelude to positing a conclusion in bold type and enlarged format: “It’s Time: Two States for Two People[s].” And to remove any doubt there is a sidebar summarizing the demographics: 2015 52% Jewish, 2020 49% Jewish, 2030 44% Jewish.

 

I find this anti-Likud rejection of the current drift toward an Israeli one-state outcome noteworthy for two different reasons: first of all, it proposes a solution that will not work; not only is there no mention of the need to give up the settlements or to address the rights of Palestinian refugees, but the conception of ‘a demilitarized Palestinian state’ is such an affirmation of the inequality of the two peoples that it is a virtual guaranty that even if the Ramallah leadership turned out to swallow such an arrangement, the Palestinian people would not. The only path to a sustainable peace needs to be based to the extent possible on the equality of the two peoples, and if a Palestinian state is ever acceptably established it must be endowed with the same sovereign rights as Israel.

 

Secondly, it is worth noticing that Netanyahu is far from alone in rejecting the two-state diplomacy. The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, elected in 2013 by the Knesset, is an unapologetic proponent of the one-state approach, endorsing the biblical and ethnic claim to the whole of the West Bank, the maximal territorial version of Greater Israel. Similarly, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is a settler firebrand and government official who has long spearheaded opposition to any politically viable accommodation with the Palestinians that acknowledges their right of self-determination.

 

Against such a background, it seems obvious that any revival of the two-state diplomacy along the lines proposed in the ad, let’s say at the initiative of the next American president, would soon reach a dead end. There is no doubt that resorting to such an ad in the leading American newspaper is convincing evidence of a deep split in Israeli leadership circles, but its proposed alternative approach fails to move prospects for a just peace forward. It suggests a split between those Israelis worried about ruling over a Palestinian majority population and those Israelis guided by territorial and colonizing ambition. Neither orientation is located on a path leading to sustainable peace.

 

Only a solution and vision based on the equality of Jews and Palestinians deserves respect and engenders hope. Let’s not be further misled, this weighty statement by Israel’s security establishment should not be confused with a revival of the Israeli peace movement or some expression of civil society disaffection directed at the Netanyahu leadership. It is, at most, lending transparency to a long ongoing conversation within Israel’s governing elite, nothing more, nothing less.

 

Furthermore, the idea of safeguarding Israel’s democratic character seems to presuppose that Israel remains a democracy. Yes, as with other apartheid structures, it is ‘democratic’ but for Jews only. For Palestinians, whether living as a minority in Israel, under occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, subject to captivity and collective punishment in Gaza, and in refugee camps scattered within the occupied territories and neighboring countries, the label ‘democracy’ has long been a cruel joke. To qualify as an authentic democracy rights based on non-discrimination must be upheld for all those living under the authority of the governing process.

 

The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace makes no secret of its Zionist leanings and Israeli outlook, although it seems genuinely to believe that Likud governance of the country is endangering Israel’s identity as well as its security. Its webpage proclaims a commitment to peace, honors the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, and calls favorable attention to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. At the same time it refrains from criticizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people or any of the numerous daily denials of Palestinian rights, avoids mentioning Israel’s apartheid governance structures, and refrains from expressions of empathy for the multiple forms of suffering imposed upon the Palestinian people.

 

 

 

 

 

27 Responses to “Israel’s Security Establishment Makes Public Plea for a Two State Solution”

  1. Ursula Franklin February 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    Note the complete absence of WOMEN and women’s views

  2. Gene Schulman February 7, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    This is an excellent post, Richard. I do hope you sent a copy as a letter to the editor of the NYT, so that the Jewish community in the US can learn the truth behind the ad. It was not published (at least I didn’t see it) in the International edition of the Times.

  3. M.L. February 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on PAJU – Palestiniens et Juifs Unis and commented:
    Only a solution and vision based on the equality of Jews and Palestinians deserves respect and engenders hope. Let’s not be further misled, this weighty statement by Israel’s security establishment should not be confused with a revival of the Israeli peace movement or some expression of civil society disaffection directed at the Netanyahu leadership. It is, at most, lending transparency to a long ongoing conversation within Israel’s governing elite, nothing more, nothing less.

    Furthermore, the idea of safeguarding Israel’s democratic character seems to presuppose that Israel remains a democracy. Yes, as with other apartheid structures, it is ‘democratic’ but for Jews only. For Palestinians, whether living as a minority in Israel, under occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, subject to captivity and collective punishment in Gaza, and in refugee camps scattered within the occupied territories and neighboring countries, the label ‘democracy’ has long been a cruel joke. To qualify as an authentic democracy rights based on non-discrimination must be upheld for all those living under the authority of the governing process.

    The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace makes no secret of its Zionist leanings and Israeli outlook, although it seems genuinely to believe that Likud governance of the country is endangering Israel’s identity as well as its security. Its webpage proclaims a commitment to peace, honors the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, and calls favorable attention to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. At the same time it refrains from criticizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people or any of the numerous daily denials of Palestinian rights, avoids mentioning Israel’s apartheid governance structures, and refrains from expressions of empathy for the multiple forms of suffering imposed upon the Palestinian people.

    • Harvey Epstein February 8, 2016 at 9:20 am #

      M.L. Just a few questions regarding definitions:

      1. Gaza forced the expulsion of all Jews as part of its takeover by the PA; would you call that ” getting rid of the occupier”, or just plain old “ethnic cleansing”, even though some of those Jews were willing to remain in Gaza and live peacefully along side their Arab neighbors under a PA governance?

      2. Bibi (perhaps with tongue in cheek) questioned the PA, that in any land swaps, would the PA grant citizenship to those Jews who lived in and wanted to remain in the lands to be transferred to the PA state? I believe that he got a negative response. Is that refusal a form of apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, etc. even though some of those Jews “occupied” land they had purchased from Arabs? Oh, I forgot; such sales to Jews are against PA rules and regulations. I am under the impression that the penalty for such sales to Jews is death. What is your definition of this?

      3. Has the definition of the word “apartheid” been changed (basically by the UN), so that it is no longer strictly within its original meaning, but is altered just so that it can fit Israel ( basically synonymous with the word “discrimination”)? Is that new definition now not otherwise applicable to most of what goes on in the world where different ethnicities collide?

      Just how “democratic” has the PA been? When did it last hold an election? Just how corrupt and dictatorial is it?

      Are you really nothing more than a PA supporting “pot” calling an alleged Israeli “kettle” black?

      Just wondering.

      Now I agree that Israel is not perfect and the “Palestinians” do have cause to complain. But shouldn’t some of those complaints be more properly directed to the actions of the PA? Or are you of the belief that everything is the fault of Israel just because, as Richard postulates, it is the stronger power?

      So you know, I do support a two state solution. Just agree on the boundaries and let the PA go its way. But with one admonition: let it be
      a peace and not a Hudna. The PA has never offered a peace. If it ever does, things will fall into place. Won’t be easy though.

      Regards

      • Richard Falk February 8, 2016 at 10:10 am #

        Harvey:

        Three questions about your comment:
        –what is your evidence that Hamas excluded all Jews from Gaza? My experience is quite the reverse,
        and based on actual contact with Hamas officials and visits to Gaza;
        –the apartheid argument is based on the establishment of structures of systematic discrimination based on ethnicity that
        are embedded in law; there seems nothing farfetched about applying the term to Israel’s policies and practices towards the
        Palestinians. Recall that white South Africans claimed that however bad the situation for black Africans was in South Africa
        it was worse elsewhere in Africa..
        –my assessment is not that Israel is ‘stronger,’ but that it dominates, exploits, and oppresses.

        Richard

  4. Beau Oolayforos February 7, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    How ironic, that just when the 2-state scheme has breathed its last, these old honchos come out of the woodwork to try & revive the dead horse, all in hopes of defusing the inevitable ‘demographic bomb’. It’s time to embrace the one-state solution advocated by yourself, Omar Barghouti, and many others.

  5. Aaron February 7, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    As usual, no weight is ever given on Abu Mazen’s refusal to negotiate a lasting peace agreement with Israel. Instead blame Israel…..

  6. Fred Skolnik February 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm #

    I am not surprised that you are going a little overboard when you get ahold of a text featuring security people who identify for the most part with political parties other than the Likud. But of course you know that, as you seem to count yourself among those who “follow Israeli politics,” though I don’t really see how you go about it since you don’t understand a word of Hebrew. Most people in Israel believe that the conflict must be resolved other than through annexation of the West Bank but fewer and fewer people see how this is going to come about given the existence of the terrorist organizations and Abu Mazen’s lack of will and standing.

    I don’t see the point in arguing with you about this so I will confine myself to pointing out a few of your many persisting errors and misconceptions, and a few new ones:

    1. Netanyahu has not turned his back on the two-state solution. He is rightly skeptical about the chances of achieving it under the present circumstances. His political rivals, to the left, believe he should be making a bigger effort. So do I, for that matter

    2. No one in the ad is “notorious.” Where on earth do you get this from? These are all pretty much mainstream figures
    .
    3. As president of Israel, Rivlin is not an “unapologetic proponent” of anything and has not made a single political statement since becoming president. Your willful misunderstanding of the status of the Israeli president and the reasons for Rivlin’s election only reveals your inability to let go of a misconception once you have worked it into your repertoire.

    4. There is no “biblical and ethnic claim” to the West Bank. There is a historical and national claim among a minority of Israelis. Do I really have to explain this to you again?

    5. Israel does not institute “collective punishment.” Wars naturally involve suffering in civilian populations. If the Israeli blockade of Gaza met the legal definition of collective punishment, then all blockades would be forms of collective punishment.

    6. There is no apartheid structure in Israel or the West Bank. Israeli Arabs eat in the same restaurants as Jews, travel on the same buses and trains, are treated in the same hospitals as Jews, treat Jews in these hospitals as doctors and nurses, serve as lawyers and judges in Israel’s legal system, teach in the universities, serve in the Knesset. There is certainly unjustifiable discrimination but that is not apartheid. And of course, as I have pointed out more than once, an occupation entails separation by definition, including separate legal systems. This not the situation for which the word apartheid was coined. If it were, all military occupations would be forms of apartheid, including the Allied occupation of Germany.

    • Richard Falk February 8, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      Mr. Skolnik:

      You make the constant mistake of confusing your ‘opinions’ with ‘facts,’ as well as claiming
      that those interpretations of complex realities that you disagree with are ‘errors.’ There are plenty of Israelis who speak
      Hebrew who share my opinions. It may be comforting to you to rely on such reasoning, but it will only be persuasive with
      those who already agree with you.

      • Fred Skolnik February 8, 2016 at 9:42 am #

        An interpretation has to have a basis in fact. I am pointing out that yours do not. This is really not an opinion. I have pointed out that you are redefining and corrupting an entire lexicon of commonly understood terms of opprobrium like apartheid, genocide and even ethnicity for the sole and express purpose of vilifying and diminishing the State of Israel and this is precisely what you are doing. You tell me factually how the realities of Arab Israeli life fit any definition of apartheid or how civilian deaths in a war zone fit any definition of genocide or how a naval blockade in time of war fits any definition of collective punishment. Hiding behind the word interpretation does not absolve you from the obligation to represent what is interpreted in an honest and informed way. Your overuse of the word is in itself an admission that you prefer to avoid dealing with simple facts and instead interpret your own unverified assumptions. And you certainly do not respond substantively when what you represent as facts is challenged substantively, as in the present case.

        I am aware that Hebrew speakers who share your biases share your opinions, but as someone who is not a Hebrew speaker and has no intimate knowledge of Israeli society and thinking, you are not in a position to evaluate or verify what these Hebrew speakers are saying.

      • Richard Falk February 8, 2016 at 10:02 am #

        It is pure foolishness to contend that we cannot comment on Chinese or Russian wrongdoing
        because we do not know the relevant languages. You are relying on the arguments of a polemicist
        to discredit opinions & interpretations with which you disagree, claiming for your views an authority
        none of us possess.

      • Fred Skolnik February 8, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        No. I am not claiming authority. You are, in the very act of producing such a blog as yours. As far as pointing to wrongdoing is concerned, that is precisely what polemicists like yourself do, without the obligation of meeting scholarly standards. There is not a historian on earth who does not understand the language of the country he undertakes to study. It is fine to have opinions, but you are placing your weight as a scholar behind these opinions when you are not functioning as a scholar, and that is dishonest. And once again:
        You tell me factually how the realities of Arab Israeli life fit any definition of apartheid or how civilian deaths in a war zone fit any definition of genocide or how a naval blockade in time of war fits any definition of collective punishment. And once again: How precisely do you go about verifying or evaluating the opinions of Israelis who share your own opinions or the factual basis of these opinions? Here,I’ve given you something very concrete and very specific, and I am willing to bet you will run away from it and that in itself proves my point.

    • Kata Fisher February 8, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      A note:

      There was time (in predominantly racist America) before any and/or hardly any civil rights for African-Americans that there was restriction what New York Time could publish concerning African Americans.

      The World has not changed since Greco-Roman times.

      In the Greco-Roman world – if you walk your slave more then a mile – you were braking Roman Law.

      Conditions of the slaves in A.D. Rome improved over the time – and then it was none.

      It is difficult for racist policy-makers among them selfs. I can’t grasp why in the world would any Faith or civil governing be advising, implementing something that goes against times, and human order. Perhaps, because they are in satanic seals? This is a very old news.

      What they are trying to do with two-state approach/cast of mind is making feudalism out of ancient slavery for themselves and Arabs in Holy Land.

      Just how difficult is to have have another way looking, thinking and behaving human among themselves? I do not understand it – what could possibly free humans from their chains.

      Omg., they are trying and need to loosen off their own chains, and – So it is with New York Time journalism. Only, if they ever could have had..

      Humans in their nature are either evil or hilarious. Why would you ever ask humans – or force humans to brake their own-human laws?

      Now, I do and do not doubt that only Church would understand this..

      http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/national/unpublished-black-history

  7. sanculottist February 8, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Excellent post and while one might want to recommend one of the commentators above to read either Ilan Pappe or Jonathan Cook, it would have to be expected that such advice would fall on deaf ears.
    However, to get back to the contents of the post. As you rightly state, we are talking about 16 men “who have been during the careers instrumental in the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people.” It can only, therefore, be expected that their ad is motivated solely by “Israel’s vital security interest”, rather than any just solution. Indeed, such a solution would mean terminating the oxymoronic “Jewish democracy’s” “Raison d’Être” and that is certainly something that they, as Zionists, do not want.

  8. rehmat1 February 8, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    A Note ….

    Demilitarized State of Palestine! How about a Demilitarized Zionist entity, so the 1.7 billion Muslims and 13 million Jews can live in peace as they used to in Muslim Spain or under Ottoman rule in the past?

    Why not a single democratic non-religious Palestine State over historic Palestine with equal rights for both the natives and the aliens?

    https://rehmat1.com/2010/06/18/palestine-the-third-option/

    • Aaron February 8, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      “..Jews can live in peace as they used to in Muslim Spain or under Ottoman rule in the past?”
      Never will Jews ever be dhimmi again…never again!!

      “..non-religious Palestine State over historic Palestine..”
      Never, since there never was, isn’t now and never will be a “historic” palestine.

    • Kata Fisher February 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      A note: The landmark of Jordan is issue in historical Palestine. The land stolen has to be returned back. First that, then you will see things fall in – just as they always should have had. It can be another 100 years before next 4 generations can deal with this – if not next 8 generations. Landmark of Jordan is problem, and problem is actual thief of the land. I just know that landmark in Historical Davidic Kingdom has to be gone. No one gave Spiritual authority to Sauds and the British to put a landmark in Davidic Kingdom, within Holy Land- and something they just came about it – Jordan.

      • Aaron February 8, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

        Kata,
        I’m not sure if English is your mother tongue or you are just having grammar problems? I really can’t understand the meaning of your comment. What do you mean by “landmark of Jordan”? What connection does the house of Saud have to do with the Kingdom of David? The latter was wiped out by the Romans and was reconstituted in 1948.
        Please be more specific.
        Thanks

      • Kata Fisher February 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

        Aaron:

        I do not proofread all the time. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I do not. It depends on how I feel and how much time I have. I never learned English language (in grammar). I am about at 75-80% at it.

        I lived in three countries – and the English land will be the last one

        I mean “landmark of Jordan” in the Davidic Kingdom is illegitimate, and it is ecclesiastical theft!

        But I show you another illegitimate, and it is ecclesiastical theft: displacement of population, and illegal ecclesiastical arrangements of ecclesiastical peoples.

        Now, these things do happen due to satanic seals in Leadership and their wife’s who are in satanic seals and/or mentally ill – I guess!

        Occasionally, I will look at Greco-Roman Letters:

        Σ = “I hiss”

        and I wrote a poem that was actually not for you, but did not get to deliver it – to my friend who is prophet-poeth:

        The Ark in the Temple of David

        They screamed, “The Lepercy in the House.”
        A scream, “The Lepercy in the House.”

        And we beat each other with those poems, all the time. He gets his ear twisted.

  9. Aaron February 8, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    What is your mother tongue, Hungarian? I speak Hebrew, English, Yiddish and French fluently and understand some Spanish, German and Arabic. Perhaps if one of those was yours Richard would allow you to express yourself more clearly in your mother tongue.

    • Kata Fisher February 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

      I absolutely could not do that. It would be impossible for you to translate the old dialect of the region.

      Besides, I only do cooking stuff in Croat language and do not transfer modern to Biblical dialect and vice-versa (The Serbian language has another word-order). However, it is Serbo-Croatian.

      • Aaron February 8, 2016 at 9:23 pm #

        ok, thanks anyways

  10. Aaron February 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    For all to peruse:

    https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/the-legal-israeli-settlements/

    • Kata Fisher February 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      A Note:

      It’s necessary to learn and understand what all exactly is ecclesiastical-illegal.

      When we come to that realisation – then we can have much more sufficient human order.

      Calling settlements (apartment buildings) illegal does not mean that they are ecclesiastical-illegal.

      Besides, it seems to me that Israeli are very conservative when comes to the things that they are actually building (as builders/government). It is not like they are building expensive one family housing complexed – but they can even do that – considering that all nacked land is ecclesiastical-land. I am not saying that they should do that – but they can do that in Holy Land. Holy Land (as land) is historical resource for Hebrew speaking population (and alien Arabs / post-Arab conquest settlements).

      I do not know who gave that term/idea to Carter when he said what he said. It does not sound true to Spiritual realities.

  11. pabelmont February 14, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    The present (since 1967) one-state-solution imposed by Israel is an apartheid state, makes no pretense to being or aspiring to be democratic — something a few so-called liberal-Zionists hanker for or dream of or imagine having been promised — and therefore does not of itself contain the seeds of transformation into anything else, not into two states, and not into democracy.

    I cannot imagine what these “security” fellow are worried about. Slavery and the subjugation of whole peoples has worked very well historically and should work very well in Israel’s 1SS — if it be left to itself.

    The nations, especially USA and EU, have very strong opposing tendencies — the people in favor of human rights and democracy, but the governments in favor of trade, business, and the oligarchic control which is part and parcel with “neoliberal” economics a/k/a free market capitalism. So far, the governments are winning, and these nations cannot bring themselves to apply any pressure upon Israel to jettison its apartheid rules and transform itself into a democratic multi-ethnic multi-confessional non-discriminatory country such as the USA (more fully) is. (Much less into two real states.) Perhaps BDS will give the people in the EU the power to pressure their governments into pressuring Israel.

    But I still don’t understant these “security” fellows.

    • Fred Skolnik February 14, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Let me help you. This is what those security fellows are worried about:

      “The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It’s likely, Mr. Horowitz that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won’t get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not sure we’ll succeed, but we’ll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost Spain and Persia. It may be that we shall lose Palestine. But it’s too late to talk of peaceful solutions”
      (Azzam Pasha, Arab League Secretary-General, Sept. 1947)

      “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Quran its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief” (Hamas Charter, Art. 8)

  12. Aaron February 15, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

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